Met Opera sacks James Levine after abuse probe
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Met Opera sacks James Levine after abuse probe

Opera house says it has found 'credible evidence' that legendary conductor sexually abused younger musicians

Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine conducts the symphony on its opening night performance at Tanglewood in Lenox., Massachusetts on  July 7, 2006. (AP/Michael Dwyer)
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine conducts the symphony on its opening night performance at Tanglewood in Lenox., Massachusetts on July 7, 2006. (AP/Michael Dwyer)

New York’s Metropolitan Opera said Monday it was terminating its relationship with legendary longtime conductor James Levine after finding “credible evidence” that he sexually abused younger musicians.

The leading US opera house had already suspended Levine in December after allegations first became public against him. Levine guided the Met’s orchestra for 40 years as music director.

The Met said it was ending the honorary position of music director emeritus for Levine, who retired in 2016 but until the scandal had still been a frequent presence as a conductor.

“The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met,” the opera house said in a statement, adding that it has “terminated its relationship” with the conductor.

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 New York Post first reported about a 2016 police report in Illinois that alleged that Levine abused a boy starting in 1985 when the purported victim was 15.

The man, who is now 48 and whose name has not been revealed, said the abuse continued for years and drove him to the brink of suicide. He alleged that the much-older Levine fondled his penis when he was a teenager and masturbated naked in front of him, describing hundreds of incidents.

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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