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Met Opera suspends renowned conductor for sexual misconduct

Did the Metropolitan Opera brush aside allegations of sexual misconduct by its conductor James Levine? As you may have heard, the company has suspended Levine pending the outcome of an investigation. Yet according to the New York Times, the Met had received credible allegations of sexual abuse over a year ago.

The Times reports that four men have come forward to accuse Levine of sexual misconduct. Three were reportedly Levine's students at the Meadow Brook School of Music, and at least one appears to have also been underage when alleged sexual abuse occurred.

In October of last year, a Chicago-area police detective contacted the Met about a complaint by a New York man who accused Levine of sexually abusing him as a teenager. After Levine denied the accusation, the Met chose to wait for the outcome of the police investigation instead of opening an investigation of its own, as it has now.

Allegations of sexual misconduct have dogged Levine for decades, according to the Times. In a Tweet, the Met stated that the suspension was related to "multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Levine that took place from the 1960's to the 1980's, including the earlier part of his conducting career at the Met."

As a result, several observers on social media openly questioned the Met's decision to wait until now to initiate an investigation. At least one asked whether the Met's general manager will face any repercussions for failing to investigate sooner.

The general manager told the Times that the Met has never made settlements on Levine's behalf with the families of abuse victims. He also denied receiving any complaints about Levine in "recent history." However, he was the person contacted by the police detective last year.

Two musicians' labor unions associated with the Met, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musical Artists, issued statements in response to Levine's suspension. They pointedly noted that the Met, like any employer, has a duty to provide a safe work environment.

In addition to the Met's suspension, other musical employers have reportedly cut ties with Levine in response to the allegations. The Ravinia Festival, which had offered Levine a five-year term as conductor laureate beginning next summer, announced it had "severed all ties." Likewise, the Juilliard School announced it was canceling Levine's conducting date at a February concert of the Juilliard Orchestra and the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Do you think the Met should have taken action against Levine when they received the 2016 police inquiry?

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