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Metropolitan Opera Conductor James Levine Suspended Amid Sexual Assault Accusations

Three men say Levine abused them decades ago when they were teenagers

The Metropolitan Opera has suspended James Levine after three men accused the famed conductor of sexually assaulting them decades ago as teenagers.

The Met, which canceled the 74-year-old former music director’s upcoming dates, has hired an outside law firm to investigate the allegations.

“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now,” Met general manager Peter Gelb told The New York Times. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

These accusations stem back to the summer 1968, when musicians Chris Brown and James Lestock say Levine masturbated them at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan, where both were 17-year-old students. At the time, Levine was a 25-year-old “rising star” on the summer program’s faculty, per the Times.

Brown says Levine coaxed him to reciprocate the action.

A third accuser, Ashok Pai, told the midtown-Manhattan paper of record that he was sexually abused by Levine starting in the summer of 1986, when Pai was 16. At the time, Levine was music director of the Ravinia Festival. Pai reported the crime to Illinois police last year.

In an interview, Gelb further stated that allegations about Levine had previously reached the Met administration’s upper levels twice. In 1979, then-Met executive director Anthony A. Bliss wrote a letter to a board member about unspecified accusations against Levine that had been made in an unsigned letter.

“We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges,” Bliss wrote back then.

The other time Gelb is aware of such an accusation being elevated to management was when the Met was contacted by police following Pai’s complaint. Gelb says the company was waiting on the results of that investigation.

Levine has led more than 2,500 performances at the Met, and was scheduled to lead a new production of Puccini’s “Tosca” beginning on New Year’s Eve. He also had two other productions slated for the coming months.

Levine stepped down as music director last year, citing health reasons.

The Metropolitan Opera did not immediately respond to TheWrap‘s request for comment. Told of the accusations, a spokesman for Levine did not comment to the Times on Sunday night.