Metropolitan Opera severs ties with James Levine following investigation of sexual misconduct


James Levine at Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Nov. 28, 2014. (Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The Metropolitan Opera announced that it was “terminating its relationship” with conductor James Levine after an investigation found “credible evidence” that he had engaged in “sexually abusive and harassing conduct.”

The Met had suspended Levine in early December after reports that first appeared in the New York Post that Levine allegedly molested an Illinois teenager from the time he was 15 years old for several years beginning in the mid-1980s, according to a report filed with the Lake Forest, Illinois, Police Department in October 2016.

Levine, who is Jewish, served as the Met’s music director for more than 40 years until his retirement in 2016. Since then he had held the title of music director emeritus. Following his retirement, he announced that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

The Met in its announcement of Levine’s firing on Monday did not release any specific findings of its investigation, but said it included interviews with 70 people,  The New York Times reported. The statement also said the investigation had “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority.”

The alleged abuse reported in October 2016 began in 1985 when Levine was guest conductor at the Ravinia Music Festival near Chicago. The accusation came nine years after the statute of limitations on a child sex crime in Illinois had expired.

The Met had known about the accusations since the October 2016 police investigation was opened, Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, told The New York Times in December. The newspaper also reported in December that rumors about Levine and sexual abuse have circulated for decades. On Monday, the newspaper reported on four other young men who in on-the-record interviews said they were abused by Levine.

Levine has denied the accusations.

Levine’s maternal grandfather was a synagogue cantor in Cincinnati.

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