NEW YORK — Conductor James Levine sued the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday after a sexual misconduct investigation sank his storied profession, saying the famend firm exploited baseless allegations to tarnish him after which fired him with out a lot as a cellphone name.
“Cynically hijacking the nice will of the #MeToo motion,” the Met and its basic supervisor, Peter Gelb, “openly seized on these allegations as a pretext to finish a longstanding private marketing campaign to power Levine out of the Met,” mentioned Levine’s go well with, filed in a Manhattan state court docket.
However a lawyer for the Met mentioned Levine wasn’t the sufferer of a vendetta however a person fired due to “credible and corroborated proof of sexual misconduct.”
“It’s stunning that Mr. Levine has refused to just accept accountability for his actions and has right now as an alternative determined to lash out on the Met with a go well with riddled with untruths,” legal professional Bettina (Betsy) Plevan mentioned in a press release.
The go well with accuses the Met and Gelb of defamation and breach of contract. It seeks no less than $5.eight million in damages — and “to revive Levine’s identify, repute and profession.”
Unleashed three days after his ouster, the go well with represents Levine’s most in depth public effort so far to fight allegations of sexual abuse and harassment that return a long time.
Levine’s go well with says considered one of his accusers despatched him pleasant letters for many years after their alleged encounter that by no means accused him of wrongdoing, and even talked of visiting. The go well with says the Met wouldn’t inform Levine who some accusers had been however acknowledged nobody who labored on the opera firm made a criticism about him throughout his 46 years there.
The opera firm suspended Levine and started an investigation in December, after the New York Publish and The New York Occasions aired allegations of sexual misconduct from three males who mentioned it passed off a long time in the past once they had been teenage music college students or aspiring conductors. A fourth man later got here ahead to say Levine had sexually abused him when he was a 20-year-old music pupil.
Levine, 74, has known as the claims unfounded.
“I’ve not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor,” he mentioned in a December assertion. “My fervent hope is that in time, folks will come to know the reality.”
He hasn’t been charged with any crime. Prosecutors in Lake County, Illinois, mentioned in December that they had investigated a 1980s sexual abuse allegation however concluded that they might not deliver expenses, citing components together with the age of consent — 16 — on the time.
However the Met mentioned Monday that its investigation, by an outdoor lawyer, discovered credible proof of “sexually abusive and harassing conduct” each earlier than and through Levine’s tenure there.
His go well with calls the investigation “nothing greater than a kangaroo court docket” that capped years of efforts by Gelb to eliminate him.
“Gelb pursued this agenda for his private achieve to advance his personal profession and step out of the lengthy shadow solid by Levine’s unbelievable expertise,” says the criticism from Gelb’s legal professionals, Elkan Abramowitz and Edward J.M. Little.
The occasions have introduced scrutiny upon the Met, in addition to Levine.
One of many world’s most distinguished opera firms, the Met has confronted questions on why it didn’t act sooner, notably since a Lake Forest detective contacted the corporate in October 2016.
Gelb has mentioned he briefed Met board leaders concerning the police investigation and spoke to Levine. However on the time, the opera firm determined to depart the matter to police, a Met spokeswoman mentioned in December.
The Met mentioned its personal inquiry discovered any claims of a Met “coverup of data relating to those points are fully unsubstantiated.”
After Leonard Bernstein’s 1990 loss of life, Levine was thought to be the highest American conductor, so broadly recognized he was given a starring position within the movie “Fantasia 2000.”
He made his Met debut in 1971, turned chief conductor in 1973, then music or creative director from 1976 till he stepped down two years in the past due to Parkinson’s illness. Levine then turned music director emeritus and headed the Met’s younger artists program till his suspension.
He has carried out from a wheelchair since a 2011 spinal damage.
The Met paid Levine’s firm, Phramus LLC, over $1.eight million for his companies as music director within the yr ending July 31, 2016, in keeping with the Met’s last-released tax return. The lawsuit says his pay as music director emeritus dropped to $400,000, plus further pay for performances.