The Metropolitan Opera in New York suspended its famed conductor James Levine on Sunday after two additional men came forward to accuse him of sexually molesting them as teenagers years ago.
The Met said in a statement that day that it had hired Robert J. Cleary, a former U.S. attorney who leads the investigations practice at the law firm Proskauer Rose, to investigate the allegations by three men.
“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,” Met general manager Peter Gelb tweeted on Sunday night. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”
News of Levine’s suspension came one day after a 2016 police report surfaced, accusing him of sexually abusing a teenager beginning in 1986. That man, Ashok Pai, has since spoken to The New York Times about the alleged abuse, as have the two other accusers, whose allegations date back to 1968.
Gelb told the Times on Saturday that the Met first learned about Pai’s abuse allegations last year, but didn’t do anything then as Levine denied the allegations and police in Illinois, where the report was filed, did not advance the case. The statute of limitations had already expired for a possible sex crime in Illinois, according to the New York Post, which was the first to publish news of Pai’s police report.
Chris Brown, who played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than 30 years, told the Times that Levine had inappropriately touched him and instructed him to touch Levine back when he was 17. The abuse allegedly occurred at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan, where Levine was on the summer program faculty and Brown was performing.
The third accuser, James Lestock, described similar sexual experiences with Levine beginning when he was 17 years old and studying cello, also at Meadow Brook.
In his report filed with the Lake Forest Police Department in October 2016, Pai said he first met Levine as a child at the Ravinia summer music festival in Illinois with his parents. They met again when Pai was 15, and he said Levine became a kind of mentor to him. He said Levine showered him with gifts like conductor batons and encouraged him to come to New York to audition as a conductor, the New York Post wrote citing the police report.
Eventually, Pai said, some uncomfortable hand-holding in Levine’s car turned into Levine masturbating in front of him and, as he got older, the conductor inappropriately touching and fondling him. The alleged abuse continued after he turned 18, Pai said in the police report.
A spokesperson for the Ravinia festival, reached by HuffPost on Monday, said they had not been aware of the allegations against Levine until they were contacted by a reporter on Friday.
“Ravinia finds these allegations very disturbing and contrary to its zero-tolerance policies and culture,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Ravinia will take any actions that it deems appropriate following the results of these investigations. Ravinia has no other information to share at this time.”
As of Monday, Levine was still listed on Ravina’s website for a 2018 summer residency, during which he will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and lead master classes.
Requests for comment left with Levine’s manager and with the Lake Forest Police Department were not immediately returned.