The Metropolitan Opera has filed a counter-lawsuit against its former conductor, James Levine, detailing allegations of abuse and sexual harassment that were not previously disclosed. The long-time face of the Met, Levine filed his own suit in March against the company after being fired for alleged sexual misconduct, charging them with defamation and breach of contract.
In the filing today, the Met claims its investigation disclosed credible evidence that Levine “used his reputation and position of power to prey upon and abuse artists.” In addition to his duties as conductor, Levine was in charge of the young artist development program at the Met. The lawsuit says the alleged conduct ran from the 1970s through 1999, but does not name any victims.
Among the allegations:
- In 1979, Levine allegedly made sexual remarks and allegedly touched a 16-year-old artist who was auditioning for him. The conduct continued at least seven times over a dozen years;
- In 1985, Levine groped and kissed a man whom he offered to drive home, locking the car doors. Levin later placed the victim in what was described as “a prestigious program” at the Met;
- In 1989, Levine talked with another man about masturbation, porn and penis size, and tried to get the man to accompany him five years later into a bath to allegedly watch him masturbate;
- In 1999, he touched a young artist and invited him into his dressing room “to engage in sexual activity.”
Attorneys for Levine filed a brief denying the Met lawsuit’s allegations. “The truth is that Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals referred to,” the brief said. “The Met’s so-called ‘investigation’ of Levine’s conduct,” they added, “was nothing more than a pretext for the Met to suspend, fire and defame him.”