Levine fired by Met after it finds evidence of sexual abuse

Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine after finding 'credible evidence' of sexual abuse

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera has severed ties with its longtime conductor and figurehead James Levine, its Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young-artist program, after completing an investigation into sexual misconduct claims.

Levine, who served as music director with the opera company for almost 40 years, was first suspended in December as the Met launched an investigation. "The investigation also uncovered credible evidence that Mr Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr Levine had authority".

The press release also stated unequivocally that there was no institutional coverup of Levine's behavior by Met officials or the Met board.

The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated.

The 74-year-old conductor, who made his Met debut in 1971, denies the claims. It said more than 70 people were interviewed in the probe. The Lake County state's attorney's office in IL said in December it investigated a sexual abuse allegation of misconduct dating to the 1980s but concluded "no criminal charges can be brought", citing multiple factors, including "the relevant age of consent in IL at the time of the alleged incidents".

But some questions arose early on about how the company had handled the case, including the fact that it began its investigation more than a year after Peter Gelb, its general manager, was first told that police in IL were investigating an accusation that Levine had sexually abused a teenage boy there in the 1980s.

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The accusations against Levine reported in The Times went back decades, and shared marked similarities. He said that at one point Levine had the group don blindfolds and masturbate partners they could not see.

It's a spectacular fall from grace for Levine, who had risen to become the most famous musicians in America since the 1960s, with a stint at the Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as his 40-year tenure at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

The conductor in an earlier statement called the allegations against him "unfounded", saying he was not an "oppressor or an aggressor".

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in IL, when he was 16.

The conductor has not been criminally charged and, unless more recent incidents are uncovered, the alleged misconduct took place too long ago for prosecution.

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