MET sacks legendary conductor Levine after abuse probe

Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine after finding 'credible evidence' of sexual abuse

The Metropolitan Opera has fired Music Director Emeritus James Levine after finding credible evidence supporting a string of longstanding sexual assault and abuse allegations.

According to an unsigned statement that the Met sent out late Monday afternoon, the internal investigation that the company announced in December, after reports alleging Levine's sexually abusive behavior were made public, has concluded.

The company says "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met". The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated".

Following the death of Leonard Bernstein in 1990, Levine was regarded as the leading American conductor and was given a starring role in the film Fantasia 2000. Between 1986 and 2004, he was the Met's artistic director.

The man claimed that the abuse - including Levine sexually touching him and masturbating in front of him - lasted from 1985 to 1993 and during that time the conductor gave him $50,000 in cash.

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Levine, now 74, has previously responded to the accusations by saying they were "unfounded".

The conductor has not been criminally charged and, unless more recent incidents are uncovered, the alleged misconduct took place too long ago for prosecution. Many of his performances were televised by PBS, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him. He regularly conducted at the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg Festival. Levine had an operation in 2008 to remove a kidney and another in 2009 to fix a herniated disk in his back.

In a statement on its website, the Met said it was "terminating" its relationship with Levine as Music Director Emeritus and artistic director of its young artist program.

"We recognize the great concerns over these issues that have been expressed by the Met community both inside and outside of the opera house", reads a statement from the Met, "and wish to provide the assurance that the Met is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and harassment-free workplace for its employees and artists".

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