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Charles Dutoit denies forced physical contact

December 23, 2017 by norman lebrecht

38 comments.


The following statement has been sent to media by Charles Dutoit from the email address of his wife, Chantal Juillet:
23 December 2017

Charles Dutoit: Response to claims of alleged misconduct

“The allegations made against me are as shocking to me as they are to my friends and colleagues. I do not recognize the man or the actions being described in the media.

“Whilst informal physical contact is commonplace in the arts world as a mutual gesture of friendship, the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth.

“I am taking legal advice and plan to meaningfully defend myself and I believe within this current climate, media accusations on serious physical abuse do not help society tackle these issues properly if the claims are in fact not true.”


Comments (38)

  1. Been Here Before says:

    Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

    However, I agree that he should not be condemned before all the facts are examined.

  2. anonanon says:

    LOL, “informal physical contact” … “in the arts” that’s a new one, did he or his agent or his lawyer come up with that lame one, after 72 hours of radio silence since the accusations were reported?

    Why didn’t Weinstein come up with that? “informal physical contact” in Hollywood

    Or Peter Martins, “informal physical contact” in ballet

    Or Roy Moore, “informal physical contact” in politics.

    As for Chantal Juillet, his 4th wife and erstwhile violinist who quickly got promoted to concertmaster as the Montreal Symphony when they started sleeping together, I have nothing but the utmost respect as his character witness.

    1. Luis says:

      Anonanon:
      I find what you say about Chantal Juillet offensive and ignorant. She got her position in Montreal through her excellent playing. She subsequently became romantically involved with Dutoit. To conflate the two is at best sloppy, and at worst, overtly sexist.

  3. Jaime Herrera says:

    Dutoit and his lawyers know the allegations cannot be proven. He will sue and he will win, but I believe the women are telling the truth. He should admit it like a man. It is really not that big a deal. He was simply behaving like lots of other men – thousands upon thousands. He may have even thought it was sexy to cuddle up to these women. Think about this: How many hundreds of thousands of times did he NOT act like this? We should not pillory a man for acting badly a couple of times just because it is all the rage in the media. Forgive and forget.

    1. anonanon says:

      “He will sue and he will win”

      No he won’t!

      Without going into the legal details, it’s the same reason Trump or Roy Moore or any of the accused has not sued.

      1. Sue says:

        Oscar Wilde!!!

    2. Db says:

      Jaime Herrera, you miss the point entirely. This was not a man coming on to some ladies during a drunk night out and being a little overly enthusiastic. This is a person in a position of power, using it to sexually assault women in the full knowledge that they won’t dare to speak out against him. It is inexcusable.

      1. Maria says:

        Innocent until found guilty … most seem to be an expert here, knows him so well and so witnessed all these events! We are not talking about child sex abuse and the fear of children, but by adults who never spoke out until this conductor gets to the age of 81. Okay, daren’t when he was 41 or 51 perhaps? But why 81 and not have spoken out when he was 55 or 60? After all he wasn’t the head of a church!!

        1. db says:

          Maria, conductors are not heads of churches but the classical music business has many elements of a cult and its stars are often regarded if not as gods, at least as angels or high priests! They are supposed to be respectful to the people they work with and to me it is inexcusable in every way when they are not. I can fully understand the current #metoo wave encourages people to speak out where before they didn’t dare. And I doubt someone like Sylvia McNair would put her own reputation at risk by uttering false accusations. I also think recent cases have shown that single unfounded allegations are not enough to bring down a career and those with a clear conscience have nothing to be worried about.

      2. db says:

        Nick, Herrera quite disgustingly minimises Dutoit’s alleged misconduct as if it was nothing of importance. My comment was meant to counter that statement. Sorry if I left out the “alleged”. No, Dutoit is not proven guilty by a court of law, and it will probably be very difficult to do so, as with many sexual harassment cases, as there are mostly no witnesses and as the accusations come many years later. Yet I do not feel sorry for him. I have never been victim of any misconduct myself but as a music professional I see and hear about so many situations of power abuse – which this is all about – that I am more than happy that the impunity of the powerful is finally being broken, or at least, being outed.

        1. Saxon Broken says:

          Nick, if these institutions behaved illegally, then let them be sued. Or aren’t they “innocent until proven guilty”?

          And to be clear, there are many people I choose not to work with or to socialize with even though, technically, their behaviour is not illegal.

      3. Peter R. says:

        So the trolls from this side of the pond have even infiltrated the Slipped Disc comment section to defend Trump and Moore and rant about “leftist bastards” and “political correctness.” I read classical music blogs with the expectation that commenters have a little more thoughtfulness and finesse. If I wanted to read that reactionary nonsense, I would just click on the comment section of any American online news website.

  4. Esteban Creswell says:

    It is an open question what lawyers and prosecutors may debate, and try to prove or disprove. We shall see. However, Maestro Dutoit’s is not equal to the case of “behaving like lots of other men – thousands upon thousands” because he is one of a dozen in the entire world of the top conductors of his particular generation. This power differential is what demands we 1) believe in the relatively powerless when they make claims of crime, mis-treatment, or career side-lining after refusing “advances” or “propositions”; 2) after a patient, thorough investigation of the validity and veracity of the claims, appropriate re-assessment of this man’s character and future employment opportunities in his chosen field be taken very seriously, which in this situation means by all musicians and all orchestras, schools and conducting seminars around the world. Admitting things like a man is only one of many personal options available to those who believe that credibility is exchangeable with honor, and that honor itself is automatically identified with amassing wealth, power, and the admiration of some requisite number of followers, ticket-buyers, or discography plaudits.

  5. Siegfried says:

    Comfort ye, all ye of moral outrage, with a letch for bloodletting and helpless, terminal name dropping! Your Kingdom draweth nigh!!

    Hold your flatulence for a little while longer and the following God-sent headline will appear…

    We Were Barrie Kosky’s Salaried Slap-Sluts!

    followed by a list of names of some of the most prominent creeps of the age.

    Your rapture, and rupture, will be complete. Whadda year 2018’s gonna be!

    1. Sue says:

      Moral outrage without morality. Not pretty.

  6. Bruce says:

    In this article https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/opinion/metoo-sexual-assault-forgiveness.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion the author notes that the man who assaulted her expressed, in his personal apology to her, the idea that he was sure the attraction was mutual. In his public apology, he claimed the same thing.

    In the midst of the media frenzy following publication of my story, he sent an email extending “a deep apology” while also making it clear he had no idea what he was apologizing for. “I sincerely believed that my advances were well received,” he wrote. Before I had a chance to respond, Mr. Shavit issued an obtuse and offensive public apology claiming our meeting had elements of “courtship.” It did not.

    Somehow, it’s possible that when a man tries to kiss a woman, and she pushes him away, says “eugh, NO, get off me” and runs out of the room, refusing to meet with him alone again, the man can still think she’s interested.

    Dutoit’s claim that none of this “informal physical contact” was unwanted does not surprise me.

  7. Hans van der Zanden says:

    Got the Montreal box a couple of weeks ago, great music!

    1. Steve P says:

      Hopefully you’ll throw it in the garbage since it is all tainted now. Certainly no way you can listen to “Bolero” again without feeling ill.

      1. harold braun says:

        Confusing music with”morale”.So do prefer listening to boring performances by totally decent people?When the great literature critic Marcel Reich Ranicki,who lost most of his relatives and his first woman in the Holocaust was asked how he could love Wagner,he responded he knew about many fine human beings,but,they didn´t write “Tristan”.Never confuse arts with behaviour.politics,or ideologies!This absolute nonsesnse!

    2. Sue says:

      The box? Priceless.

  8. Vaquero357 says:

    Well, seriously, what else is Dutoit – or anybody else similarly accused – going to say?

    The problem for him, as with James Levine, is that while his accusers probably cannot provide any conclusive, objective proof that he behaved as they have said, neither can he provide any conclusive proof that he *did not*.

    And another career is destroyed, maybe justly, maybe not. None of us will ever know for sure.

    1. Peter says:

      He destroyed his career all by himself. Such behavior has the tendency to catch up with even the most powerful and successful men…sooner or later.

    2. harold braun says:

      Spot on.

  9. Peter says:

    The musicians I have talked to tonight were not so surprised when they heard of these accusations. He seems to have had the reputation of being a pig.

    1. Sue says:

      Martha did not think so.

      1. Anon says:

        You have no knowledge of that.

  10. Raymond says:

    Analogies are pointless here. This is the case of Dutoit and how it echoes or mirrors another is quite beside the point.

    At some stage we’ll have to consider the weight of the evidence and, as pointed out, this won’t be in criminal court. But civil courts are a possibility. And both sides will be heard.

  11. torinese says:

    It sounds as though Dutoit was pretty egregious, and he’s known to have behaved like a jerk with musicians in rehearsal as well, but it’s STILL a problem to take career-ending measures before there is some kind of formal investigation/adjudication. Why? Because for every conductor (or other type of “boss”) who felt entitled to make crude and obviously inappropriate advances, there will be another who made merely “bold” advances that were not so physically invasive, and another after that who simply engaged in flirting that most people would not find gross, and so on down the line – and yet it’s always possible that *some* recipient of said advances or flirting might see them in a worse light. One can get into gray areas very fast, and I suspect we will if we haven’t already, however obvious the case of Dutoit may be.

    True, employment decisions are not the same as legal proceedings – but we are seeing extremely harsh punishment meted out, and so the question of whether the punished party deserves her or his fate carries some moral burden. The whole point of “due process” is that you apply it *even to those who seem obviously guilty.* Not to protect them from punishment (due process is supposed to *find them guilty* and impose their punishment), but because others – the ones who might fall into “gray areas” or even be totally innocent – deserve to know that a system is in place to reach judgments by some standard other than media-fueled panic. See, for instance, the case of Joseph Colaneri, whose accuser in turn stands credibly accused of multiple instances of stalking, lying, and other bad behavior (some of it really lurid and damaging). Though the institutions that know Colaneri best are standing behind them, there are or were others seeking summary cancellation of contracts. So he has already been harmed psychically in a far from trivial way, and it’s still unclear whether he will escape further harm or not.

    The point is – quickie back-and-forth in the press and on social media, in an atmosphere of “off with their heads,” is NOT the way to settle those questions. If Dutoit did what has been alleged (and I don’t doubt it), then *let him pay the price* – but let it be a price decided in calm deliberation and after a chance for his defense, if any, to be heard. To say we should be fair and open-minded “except to the guilty” is to say nothing at all, or nothing worthy of respect.

    1. harold braun says:

      Spot on!

  12. Doug Grant says:

    It is about time that someone clearly said that what Dutoit is accused of pales into tiny insignificance compared to what Levine is accused of. So I am saying it now.

    I guess I am in the Matt Damon camp in this respect – though even more so, as Levine is accused of abhorrent, illegal behaviour with minors.

    1. Anon says:

      Is Levine accused of illegal acts with minors? I mean, accused, for real, not only gossiped about? Because all the allegations that we could read about in the press recently, were legal acts. Not exactly heart warming and morally pristine, but legal. Do you know more? Go to the police snd report it!

      1. harold braun says:

        Exactly.

  13. harold braun says:

    Right move.Maestro Dutoit.

  14. Anne says:

    Media Court here, all experts! Imagine all of you if you were the one being accused – and their friends and family being implicated as well!! No one is condoning what is being alleged but then to kick someone down and do .more unfounded accusing, whoever they may be, cannot be condoned either. Character assasination is one of the worst things in life, either on here or in fact making accusations that may turn out to be false.

  15. Gerald Martin says:

    Why isn’t Dutoit also suing orchestras for wrongful contract termination? There is certainly harm in the loss of performance fees and in the professional damage in being “fired” for baseless cause.

    1. BSO knew says:

      Probably because he knows that he is guilty. Same reason the orchestras all dropped him so quickly once the news came out. Just like with Levine, I’m guessing they all knew, and hedged their bets against the abused ever coming out publicly.

      1. Ann says:

        I don’t think we have been so brutal over here in England until we get to the truth. Innocent until found guilty.

        1. norman lebrecht says:

          You have used more than one name to comment on Slipped Disc. Please stick to one.


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