Charles Dutoit denies ‘heinous crime of rape’

January 12, 2018 by norman lebrecht


The Swiss conductor has issued a statement overnight contesting an Associated Press report in which he was accused by six women of sexual aggression and by one of them of rape.

Dutoit, 81, said: ‘I am shaken to the core by this bewildering and baseless charge. To this, I submit my categorical and complete denial.’

He added that he was ‘appalled and sickened’ to be accused ‘of the heinous crime of rape.’

Comments (22)

  1. Been Here Before says:

    At this point, Dutoit’s only way to clear his name is to sue the accuser for defamation.

    This is becoming a very sad situation for all involved. I understand the accusers’ pain, however, destroying the man’s name and reputation solely on the basis of accusations for the incident that happened 30 years ago is not the right way to go either.

    1. Sue says:

      Anybody needs to be extremely careful with that! Remember what happened to Oscar Wilde?!!! He was defending his reputation in court and ended up in Reading Jail.

      1. Been Here Before says:

        What would you suggest then? At the moment we have only her word against his – in addition to rumors and hearsay, but no real evidence whatsoever. How can he clear his name if he did not rape her?

        And by the way, Oscar Wilde was a sodomite, which was proven by the Marquess of Queensberry.

        1. Sue says:

          Your last sentence proves my point entirely; Wilde was defending himself (he took the initiative) and ended up in jail.

          The police should be required to prosecute the case of Dutoit. I don’t trust civil courts.

          1. Alex Davies says:

            Why do you not trust civil courts? That is an awful lot of legal process that you do not trust.

  2. Karen says:

    I quote from the comment section of an earlier post:

    “I was with Jenny at the Argerich/Dutoit concert when this happened and what she’s now claiming in the media is totally untrue, and completely exaggerated, which knowing her over the years doesn’t surprise me at all. First, she wasn’t 17, she was 19 (she was born in 1983 in May or June and the concert took place winter either late 2002 or early 2003), and she didn’t describe it like this back then AT ALL. She was so excited that Dutoit was flirtatious with her and kissed her and she talked about it back then like she loved it, she was very excited that a famous conductor found her attractive. In fact back in those days she loved getting attention from men and would feel this proved her attractiveness, she was known at Curtis for this. She was especially after men who were married or in relationships. Knowing her this is just her trying to get the media to write about her so she can be in the spotlight, promote her career etc. I don’t know about the other women and if the allegations are true I support them fully and whatever response might be appropriate, but I felt it necessary to say what I personally know about the case of Jenny Chai.”

    It’s not far-fetched at all that these accusations might be grossly exaggerated. I quote from the original AP article:

    “AP spoke with two male musicians who said she confided in them immediately after the encounter. One of them recalled she was afraid to be alone and said he served as her chaperone at subsequent concerts. Another said he urged her to report Dutoit to police but that she never did. “I was so afraid I would never be asked to play again,” she told the AP.

    “A third man who joined her orchestra after the attack said he had generally known for years that something had happened with Dutoit, but did not learn the details until a decade ago.”

    So in other words, AP could not verify the musician told her colleagues that she had been raped. Otherwise they would have said so in the report. Instead all we have here is some vague recollections. There possibly were misdemeanors from Dutoit. But I doubt very much had raped occurred, the only recollection from one of the male colleagues should be that “she was afraid to be alone and said he served as her chaperone at subsequent concerts” but no confirmation of the event itself.

    1. Hilary says:

      This more-or-less sets the record straight.

    2. harold braun says:

      I heard similar things from former Curtis students about Mrs.Chai.Also about her behaviour towards other famous people at Curtis.
      Then the allegated”rape”.Let me get it straight:
      Dutoit,who is a conductor,and hasn´t touched an instrument in decades(although he played and studied some)asks the victim if she can help him out with a tool to fix instruments??????Maybe he practises secretely in hotel rooms like Inspector Clouseau…
      Give me a break…..

      1. Alex Davies says:

        AP is deliberately not giving much away, but my guess was that it was a tool that could be used to repair of musical instrument but which could also be used to repair luggage or pick a lock.

    3. Hilary says:

      Jenny Chai’s case has been successfully demolished.

  3. ira says:

    I don’t believe the boston symphony has yet announced that dutoit will not be conducting at tanglewood this summer or announced any replacements.

  4. Bruce says:

    Given the human capacity for self-delusion, I wonder if Mr. Dutoit thought — and still thinks — that these encounters were consensual. The comedian Louis CK and others (for instance the journalist Ari Shavit have mentioned that they thought at the time that their behavior was welcome to some degree — and those are just the ones who acknowledge doing what they were accused of.

    1. Karen says:

      “Given the human capacity for self-delusion, I wonder if Mr. Dutoit thought — and still thinks — that these encounters were consensual.”

      You can easily apply the same argument to the musician. She might not have characterized the incident as rape at the time, even though she might have felt some unease, especially since she was married. And although she expressed her unease to her male colleagues, it appears that she did not tell her colleagues explicitly at the time that she had been raped.

      Then decades later, when the social environment changed, she changed her mind and believes she was raped. This is not an unlikely scenario.

      1. Bruce says:

        It’s possible.

        Using an example from the ongoing US gymnastics scandal: I heard a radio interview with a former Michigan State University gymnast (where the evil doctor was employed). She was in pain, so her coach told her to go see Dr. Nasser. She did, and he abused her. She told her coach. The coach told her it could not have happened, Nasser was a good guy, she must have misinterpreted what he was doing in his treatment, and she should be careful about spreading irresponsible accusations. That shut the gymnast right up. It made her think she was wrong (and would never be believed even if she was right), and she never told anyone else, not even her parents. Years later, when he got into trouble for doing exactly the same things to other girls that he’d done to her, she realized she had indeed been abused and came forward. I don’t remember her name (or her coach’s name).

  5. Thomasina says:

    Now in Japan, his name has disappeared from the program of NHK SO. But no notification of cancellation, and there is a description that it’s under adjustment. I think they are waiting for him to appeal (for reference the prescription of the rape case in Japan is ten years).

  6. M2N2K says:

    It is quite possible if not probable that both the accuser and the accused believe sincerely that they are telling the truth. Definitions of “rape” and/or “sexual assault” have become so much broader during last several decades that any discussion of such allegations should start by determining what each party understands by the words they use.

    1. Alan says:

      Indeed you may well be right. Sexual values and norms have changed so much in recent times that things are now so blurred (in part, I fear, by the righteousness of press and internet). But from Pompei to Victorian porn yes (gasp) I have seen them. Seemed quite consensual at the time. I have also hugged women and men and even been kissed by a gay man (I was mildly confused but did not feel the need to beat him up and hugged him in return, lovely man that he was). But as an “ordinary” man (no oil painting or excessive libido) I have known (and not necessarily in the sexual sense) more than a few predatory men as well as predatory women over the past 45 years. I had no problem with “no” but a “yes?” Luckily I am not famous or rich but I am now in an era where something may come back to haunt me? Plus I wait for the day that a famous man is accused of being seduced (or raped) by a woman.

  7. Elvira says:

    Power is irresistible!
    The insects attracted to a bulb…..

  8. batschi says:

    I do not think it is appropriate to slander Mrs Chai’s reputation, even if it is in defence of Mr Dutoit. Both parties have the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and nobody here can realistically go through this process. Even if someone in this forum knew either of these two people many years ago, this still counts as hear-say.
    I feel it is ok to mention that the alleged victim might potentially have her own issues, but this is probably as far as I would go.

    Character assassination is a terrible thing. You would not want it done to yourself.

  9. Sharon says:

    I am not in any way justifying rape but I do believe that like Levine who in part was a victim of changing attitudes towards the age of consent, sexual harrassment, and attitudes towards “power relationships” Dutoit might also be a victim of changing attitudes towards unchaperoned women. In this ever increasingly androgynous society if today members of an orchestra of the opposite sex on tour shared a hotel room or even an apartment in their home city no one would necessarily presume that they were having sex, but Dutoit comes from the generation where women were thought to be “looking for trouble” if they even walked unescorted at night or if they were ever alone with a man in or near a room with a bed. This was why so many women did not report rape in yesteryear. For a man over about 60 if a woman were to visit him alone in a hotel room, even if he invited her, it could only mean that she was interested in one thing.
    My grandfather, born 1914, used to say “If a woman says no she means maybe, if she says maybe she means yes, and if she says yes she’s no lady”. For the man of Dutoit’s generation if a woman resisted after visiting him in a hotel room alone it was either to show him or herself that she was not too “loose” or that she was trying to increase the sexual tension by putting up resistance and “playing hard to get”. It was during the eighties that these attitudes began to change (Remember the “Take Back the Night Rallies”?)
    Again, I am not justifying anything, but it is easy, especially when people of different generations are involved, to misinterpret a potentially sexual situation.
    Guys, (and gals) only when a woman (or a man) actually says yes verbally can one assume that there’s a green light for sex.

    1. harold braun says:

      Exactly.I´have been working as an expat for 32 years in German opera houses now.Attitudes have changed very much,as have performances and the whole opera system.
      The days when musicians,dramaturgs,production assistants,even singers hang out in pubs until the wee morning hours a mostly gone.But even today,at post premiere parties,you often can see young girls,or gay youngsters flirting with directors,conductors,singers etc.,often playing the teasing game.Same at conservatories.Some have quite a reputation for that.But,it was much more the case 20,30 years ago,believe me.

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