Musical director James Levine fired by Met Opera for 'sexually abusive' conduct

The Metropolitan Opera said it fired music director emeritus James Levine on Monday after three month investigation found "credible evidence" that he "engaged in sexually abusive" conduct toward artists.

Levine was suspended by the Met in December pending the investigation.

The Metropolitan Opera said in a statement on Monday that an independent inquiry had "uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct" before and during his time at the company. The company said "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met".

Levine was sacked as both music director emeritus and artistic director of the Met's young artist program.

The Met did not release specifics of the evidence, though said that more than 70 people had been interviewed.

Many of Levine's performances were televised by the Public Broadcasting Service, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him.

The Met also strongly denied its management or directors had tried to cover up the allegations. The alleged victim reported the incidents to police in Lake Forest, Ill., in October 2016.

Levine was held in very high esteem by the Met's orchestra, and was also music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Ravinia Music Festival from 1973-1993 and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004-2011, and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic from 1999-2004.

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.

Four men accused Levine of assault, including Ashok Pai, who told the Daily News that the conductor "basically sexually assaulted me hundreds of times". 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.

James Lestock, a cellist, said that he, too, was abused that summer when he was a student, and said that the abuse continued in Cleveland, where a tight-knit clique of musicians followed Levine, who was then an assistant conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra on the cusp of a major career.

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