March 23, 2018 / 9:32 PM

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Met Opera Fires James Levine After Evidence Of Sexually Abusive, Harassing Conduct Surface


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James Levine, a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. The legendary artist was fired from the Met after a 46-year-career after the institution found evidence of sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. In December, he was suspended after four men claimed they were abuse by the conductor when they were teenagers.   ( Miguel Medina | AFP/Getty Images )

The Metropolitan Opera fired 74-year-old conductor and pianist James Levine after its own investigation has found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment.

Levine became a part of the Met in 1971 and has conducted over 2,500 performances within his 46-year career. Two years ago, he had to step down due to Parkinson's Disease but has since then been a part of the company as a music director emeritus and head of the young artists program.

He was suspended in December after reports of sexual abuse and harassment dating from the 1960s emerged.

Met Finds James Levine Guilty

The Met did not reveal specifics of the results of their investigation, but the institution hired former U.S. attorney Robert J. Cleary, now a partner at Proskauer Rose, to look into the accusations made against the legendary conductor. It was said that over 70 people were interviewed during the course of the investigation.

The investigation also found that members of the Board of Directors and the management has been involved in covering up rumors and accusations of sexual assault made against Levine throughout his tenure at the Met.

"The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met.," the press release published by the Met reads. "The investigation also uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority."

Sexual Abuse Allegations Against James Levine

Following the wave of sexual harassment accusations that rocked Hollywood as part of the #MeToo movement, three men came forward in December to accuse Levine of sexual abuse.

Chris Brown, a member of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for three decades, said that Levine masturbated him and encouraged him to reciprocate when he was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan. Levine, at the time, was 25 years old.

James Lestock was also 17 when he experienced a similar assault. He was inside his dorm in Meadow Brook when Levine asked him to take his clothes off. He said no, but Levine "was not interested in that ... and pursued the point."

He added that when he joined the Cleveland Institute of Music, Levine, who was assistant conductor of the orchestra, encouraged the group of musicians to take part in sessions in which everyone was blindfolded and masturbated.

Ashok Pai was a 15-year-old from Illinois living near the Ravinia Festival where Levine was a music director when the sexual abuse started. He made the accusation against Levine in 2016 in a report to the Lake Police Department in Illinois.

"On various occasions he would ask me how I touched myself and then he would touch me the way I touched myself," he revealed. "I was never able to be aroused by this. But then he would masturbate himself at his bed or in the bathroom."

Levine has denied the "unfounded" sexual abuse accusations.

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