Just in: US symphony chorus director is suspended over ‘lewd behaviour’

Just in: US symphony chorus director is suspended over ‘lewd behaviour’


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2013

Lee E. Erickson, 58, director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s chorus, has been suspended from work following his arrest in a city park.

He is alleged to have followed an undercover deputy sheriff into a lavatory, where improper activity is said to have taken place. Presumptions of innocence apply, as always before trial. Report here.

lee erickson


  • R. James Tobin says:

    This kind of entrapment is more offensive than the alleged lewdness. In this case it–and his suspension–is especially regrettable because he is a very fine chorus director, with the MSO Symphony Chorus always extremely prepared. As an MSO subscriber I can testify to that.

  • Robert Levine says:

    Victim of a PR campaign by our Sheriff, a truly loathsome character. Hard to believe that gays are still being targeted by the government. Lee is a first-class choral director, as the MSO chorus demonstrates every time they perform with my orchestra.

    • Alvarus says:

      And even if he did as is alleged, so what? Where are the victims? I don’t know his work, but sounds like it is exemplary. No matter what happens, I hope the MSO keeps him.

  • sdReader says:

    Lewd behavior is an offense, and being gay doesn’t force someone to break the law. How would you feel if you lived by one of the parks?

    • Robert Levine says:

      I’d feel that 1) I’d much rather see the Sheriff’s department use their limited resources to entrap bar customers that leave the bar to drive while plastered. I’d much rather have my kid exposed to a masturbating male than killed by a drunk driver. I’ve come close to being killed by a drunk driver on several occasions in Milwaukee, while I’ve never been exposed to anyone masturbating in a public park.

      2) I’d not believe that such conduct ought to be a career-ending offense.

      Remember this was not a law enforcement officer happening on illegal conduct and doing his/her duty. This was an operation targeted at gay males run by a Tea Party wannabe elected official, which ended up ensnaring someone who’s done a great deal of good to the community. I truly wonder if, Lee had been driving drunk, this would have hit the front pages. But which really represents the greater danger to the community?

      • What Robert Levine says. And hasn’t enough been said on this all by now?

      • sdReader says:

        On (1), the police must have realized a problem existed in a neighborhood and devoted some of those limited resources to tackling it. They must have to shift resources regularly.

        On (2), the operation presumably was targeted at people breaking your city’s laws. Unusually when a public figure is caught driving drunk, it makes headlines.

        The musician’s sexual orientation is not the point here, and we don’t know that his career will end. If he is good, he will get past the consequences of breaking the law on this one occasion, and hopefully clean up his act!

      • sdReader says:

        typo: Unusually > Usually

    • MWnyc says:

      If I lived by one of those parks, I’d want the police patrolling the parks; their presence alone will deter lewd behavior. (It’s worked every place I’ve seen it done.)

      I would not want police performing (or pretending to perform) lewd behavior and then arresting civilians who join them in it.

  • sdReader says:

    … that was a reply to Robert Levine.

  • PK Miller says:

    Isnt it amazing. 2013 rushing headlong to 2014, almost 45 years post Stonewall, with so many pressing issues, money tighter than ever, so much REAL crime, police have nothing else to do? Rolling the queers is so 1960s NY etc. What consent adults chose to do is NOT the government’s business or that of the police.

    • Morgan says:

      What IS the business of the government, and thus the police, is sexual activity, be it gay or straight, in public parks. Parks are paid for by all, and the use of them by ALL is protected under the laws of the governing body. Enforcing those laws is NOT “rolling queers”, as you so quaintly put it.

      • MWnyc says:

        Arresting civilians who are caught performing illegal activities in public is fine. That’s what law enforcement is.

        Police deliberately enticing civilians into performing illegal acts and then arresting them for succumbing to the enticement is not.

        I was never a fan of police selling drugs to civilians and then arresting them for buying the drugs, either.

      • David H. says:

        So you are saying masturbation in a toilet stall is “sexual activity in public parks”? The law says you can’t masturbate in a public toilet stall? 😉 I’m having fun with this thread and our hypocritical friends int he US.

        Imagine this happened In Russia, where a Russian undercover police man trapped a gay man exactly like this…

  • Devin says:

    Looks like it still is illegal to be gay after all.

  • squirrel says:

    in such a permissive and hypocritical society as ours, cops working a sting like this is completely cruel and predatory and the Milwaukee S.O. should be ashamed to have put him on leave. Unless he exposed himself to an underage child who was a police operative.

    • John says:

      If your son or daughter entered the bathroom while Lee was masturbating in front of the cop, would you feel the same way?

      • Martin says:

        There are cubicle doors you know. And feet to kick balls.

        No need for a lawsuit, no need for people losing a job over something like this.

      • MWnyc says:

        If the cop was the one who got the situation started, I’d be angrier at the cop.

        I think most of us agree, John, that people should not engage in sexual activity in the washrooms of public parks. (It’s difficult for me to think of a less erotic setting, personally.)

        I include the police among the people who should not be engaging in or initiating such activity. Especially since they can deter the activity simply by being there, without doing any enticing.

  • robcat2075 says:

    Highly embarrassing but probably a misdemeanor with a modest fine at most.

    Back in the 90’s this happened to a museum director here in Dallas. He was cut loose immediately but her was a brand new hire with no community support. Someone with loyal fans and who has been a longtime fixture might have a better chance of weathering this.

  • Robert says:

    It is obviously entrapment and is apparently what used to happen in this country – until they stopped it! The officer and superior who told him to do it should be fired!

  • This should ricochet against the authorities as anti-gay harassment and will surely be tossed out as entrapment. While perhaps not the wisest thing for a person in a leadership position to be involved in, there is certainly no harm here to anyone but the entrapped gentleman.

    • Alvarus says:

      So agreed. Many police forces have turned into nothing more than revenue generating machines.

      • John says:

        There are plenty of private clubs and other private spaces in Milwaukee where people can go to have whatever kind of sexual experiences they want to have. I have never understood the need to use public lavatories or other public spaces for this unless it’s some kind of turn-on to have high risk sex in public places. And please, it’s not a Stonewall thing. Let’s get past that. If I walked in on a heterosexual couple having sex when I wanted to use a public restroom, (or worse yet, if a six year old went into that restroom) that would be just as wrong. Really, there’s such a thing as a time and a place. And for Lee, a public figure with high visibility in an arts organization that relies on financial donors, this was really irresponsible behavior, and something that could become ruinous to his career. So was it really worth it?

    • sdReader says:

      It is illegal. And harm is done to the neighborhood.

  • Brian says:

    When I first read this (a day or two ago) I noted with distinct interest that Mr. Erickson was the only one arrested who was actually named. Is this because of his status as MSO Chorus Director or because he is a musician? Either way it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t effect his employment status with the MSO.

  • Andrew says:

    Entrapment, in U.S. law in many states anyway, isn’t necessarily what you would think. Starting here is a good, illustrated summary: http://lawcomic.net/guide/?p=633. In short, very little qualifies as a successful entrapment defense.

  • David H. says:

    I’m confused about this. Is it illegal in the US for two consenting adults to enter a bathroom stall and do whatever?

  • Anonymous says:

    I sing for, under, and with Lee Erickson.

    Never have I experienced such an upstanding, upright, forthrighteous, honest, hard-working, and SUPREMELY TALENTED man as this music man. He is THE magnetic musician and leader, drawing all true musicians to him, making individual musicians and whole Choirs WANT to do their best for him. He is an unbelievably talented and gifted Director, organist, musician, and, especially, leader.

    He is also an truly devout Catholic, a grand man, a friend.

    Lee Erickson is being crucified in the court of public opinion. The sherriff of KnotHead-ingham, David Clarke, has overstepped Clarke’s legal authority, probably broken the law, and certainly opened up Clarke and Milwaukee County to a multi-million dollar defamation suit. You do not treat a musical pillar at the top of the game like a wanton criminal with absolutely no proof except an he-said-she-said pathetic book of evidence. Clark is an idiot who has severely overstepped his authority and has legislated and dictated sanctions reserved only for peer juries and justice through one’s “day in court”. Clarke, as an Agent of The Principal Milwaukee County, has put Milwaukee County and its taxpayers in an extremely precarious position.

    Clarke is an a$$hole extraordinaire. That is my opinion…and the opine of almost everyone I know, some of whom have actually worked within The Milwaukee County Sherriff’s department.

    Lee, however, being more the gentle soul type that he is, I am sure would reserve public disdainment of Clarke.

    Clarke, by his self-serving immature infantile ludicrous mishandling of this situation, has single-handedly possibly destroyed Lee the man, Lee’s 40+ year career, Lee’s position(s), Lee’s livelihood(s), Lee’s achievments, and probably some of Lee’s faith in loyalty and humanity.

    There was absolutely no cause for Clarke, the local media, The MSO, and other entities (of which they know who they are) to manhandle this situation like they did…like they were shovelling sh*t at a state fair.

    Shame on every one of you.

    Lee Erickson is presumed INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty.

  • tom dean says:

    Was the door closed

    Was the officer encouraging this behavior.

    Is this type of law enforcement biased or prejudiced enforcement of the law.

    I would like to see people who engage in this type of behavior set up their own parks.

    and deduct the operation cost from their taxes.

    if gay and bisexual men need tips about cruising they may seek help on the internet

    if you get busted seek legal advice and fight this type of crap

    Bruce W Nickerson has won many legal cases in California

    and too the tax payers what a waste of tax payers money.

    A police officer I know said this is just like a drug raid or sting a cost the same amount. COPS HUNTING FAGS IS’NT CHEAP. BUT OH WHAT A THRILL TO BAG A FAG

    lee I love you! thanks for taking one for the team