New York’s Metropolitan Opera to investigate conductor James Lev - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New York’s Metropolitan Opera to investigate conductor James Levine after sexual abuse claim

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James Levine, then-Boston Symphony Orchestra music director, conducts the symphony on its opening night performance at Tanglewood in Lenox., Massachusetts on July 7, 2006. Michael Dwyer / AP James Levine, then-Boston Symphony Orchestra music director, conducts the symphony on its opening night performance at Tanglewood in Lenox., Massachusetts on July 7, 2006. Michael Dwyer / AP
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New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced over the weekend it will open an investigation into its famed longtime conductor James Levine, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1985 and carrying on the abuse for a number of years.

The opera's leadership said on Twitter Saturday night that it was “deeply disturbed” by the reports and would conducting an investigation into if the accusations were true.

“We are deeply disturbed by the news articles that are being published online today about James Levine,” the Met said in a tweet Saturday night. “We are working on an investigation [with] outside resources to determine whether charges of sexual misconduct in the 1980s are true, so that we can take appropriate action.”

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, said in a statement to NBC News on Sunday that the opera company first became aware of the allegations when Illinois police opened their investigation in October 2016.

“At the time [Levine] said that the charges were completely false, and we didn’t hear anything further from the police,” Gelb said in the statement. “We need to determine if these charges are true and, if they are, take appropriate action. We will now be conducting our own investigation with outside resources.”

The opera’s announcement followed a report in the New York Post that Levine was accused in a police report of molesting young man beginning when he was 15 years old and that the sexual abuse continued for years.

The man detailed the allegations to the Lake Forest, Illinois, police department in 2016, according to the Post, which was first to report the accusation. Lake Forest is where the boy lived when the alleged abuse began and near the site of the Ravinia Music Festival, north of Chicago, where Levine, now 74, was a conductor during summers from 1971 until 1993, according to the festival’s website.

A copy of the police report was obtained by the New York Post and The New York Times.

Levine’s accuser told police he first met the conductor attending the festival as a young boy and continued to have harmless encounters with him for several years, according to the New York Post. Then, in 1985, Levine became physical with the boy in a car after dropping him off at home, the New York Post reported.

“I began seeing a 41-year-old man when I was 15, without really understanding I was really ‘seeing’ him,” the alleged victim, now 48, said in a written statement to police, according to the Post. “It nearly destroyed my family and almost led me to suicide. I felt alone and afraid. He was trying to seduce me. I couldn’t see this. Now I can.”

The younger man was not identified in either report, but The New York Times reported that it had interviewed the alleged victim on condition of anonymity and that he confirmed that he made the accusations in the police report. A relative of the man also told The Times that the alleged victim first complained of the sexual abuse privately in 1993.

Levine's manager at Columbia Artists Management Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Levine, who first became musical director of The Metropolitan Opera in 1976, continued to work there as recently as Saturday night, when he completed his run conducting Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem.” Levine was next scheduled to conduct Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca,” on New Year’s Eve.

The conductor, known for his wild hair and revered for his musical talent, has won 10 Grammys and been nominated 37 times. He was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2002, along with Paul Simon, Chita Rivera, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Earl Jones. He was also the conductor in Disney’s “Fantasia 2000.” 

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