Met conductor accused of molesting teen: report


New York (AFP)

James Levine, legendary music director for 40 years at New York's Metropolitan Opera, has been accused of molesting a teenage boy in the 1980s, The New York Post reported Saturday.

The allegations come with the United States reeling from a firestorm of sexual misconduct claims that have ended a litany of powerful careers and rocked US industries from Hollywood to news to politics.

A now 48-year-old man went to police in 2016 to accuse Levine of molesting him from the age of 15 in 1985, saying the abuse lasted until 1993 and led him to the brink of suicide, the Post reported.

Levine, 74, retired as Met music director at the end of the 2015-16 season for health reasons but remains music director emeritus at the prestigious New York opera house.

The Met did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

The alleged victim, who was not named, went to police in Lake Forest, Illinois to detail the molestation, saying Levine would masturbate in front of him and kiss his penis, the Post said, citing a police report.

The newspaper said the Met's general manager was informed of the allegations in 2016, yet Levine continued to wield his baton.

The accusations came nine years after the statute of limitations on a possible child sex crime in Illinois had expired, the Post said.

But police investigated anyway and submitted findings to the Lake County State's Attorney. The Post quoted a spokeswoman as saying the case is still under review and no charges have been brought.

"I began seeing a 41-year-old man when I was 15, without really understanding I was really 'seeing' him," the Post quoted the alleged victim as saying in a written statement to police.

"It nearly destroyed my family and almost led me to suicide. I felt alone and afraid. He was trying to seduce me. I couldn't see this. Now I can."

The alleged victim said Levine would ask to meet him at an upmarket inn, ostensibly to talk about his ambitions in classical music, and gave him $50,000 in cash over the years.

"Levine was not a person you ever said no to," he was quoted as telling police.

Levine has worked with greats such as Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, and led more than 2,500 performances of 85 different operas since his company debut in 1971.