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Met fires James Levine after misconduct investigation
14 March 2018, 06:26 | Rodolfo Quinn
Metropolitan Opera Fires Conductor James Levine for 'Sexually Abusive and Harassing Conduct'
The Metropolitan Opera has fired its well-known music director and conductor, James Levine, after an investigation found that Levine had engaged in sexual harassment and misconduct.
It said there was also evidence that the conductor abused and harassed "vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers". In light of the findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met.
Levine became a part of the Met in 1971 and has conducted over 2,500 performances within his 46-year career.
The Met said in its statement "the investigation also found that any claims or rumours that members of the Met's management or its board of directors engaged in a coverup of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated".
The Met, however, also absolved itself of blame after criticism that it could have acted before longstanding allegations about Levine made headlines amid the growing spotlight in the United States on sexual abuse by powerful men.
The Met hired former U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary, now a partner at Proskauer Rose, to head its investigation, and the company said more than 70 people were interviewed.
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Some say they were teenagers at the time. Levine called the accusations "unfounded", saying in a statement that "I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor".
But how could any of this go unnoticed, for decades? Additional reports soon followed from Chris Brown and James Lestock, leading to Levine's suspension.
The Met said it has "terminated its relationship" with Levine, who retired in 2016 amid failing health but until the scandal had remained a frequent presence as a conductor.
"We just announced the termination of James Levine's contract, obviously a major event in the history of the Met, and it is therefore necessary that I not leave NY at this critical time", Gelb wrote in an email to Four Arts President David Breneman late Monday afternoon. Three decades later - after, Pai said, therapy had helped him realize how destructive those encounters had been - he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL.
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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