Will the Met have to pay for Levine’s misdeeds?

Will the Met have to pay for Levine’s misdeeds?


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2018

Michigan State Universty last night agreed to pay $500 million to 332 women and girls who were sexually assaulted by the gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar is serving 60+ years for his crimes.

James Levine, the former Metropolitan Opera music director, has been accused by up to a dozen individuals of sexual molestation and damaging their careers if they refused. He denies wrongdoing.

Once the Met has settled Levine’s unfair dismissal suit, which it is hotly contesting, it may face a hefty bill from the victims.




  • David says:

    Isn’t the important thing in the story above that the person from Michigan SU was convicted?

    Unless the Met are paying hush money, I do not see under what circumstances they would pay out.

    • Scotty says:

      That’s one. The other is that the gymnastics victims were children and as such it is clear that they couldn’t consent.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        And that the actions took place at Michigan SU when he was acting in his capacity as an employee.

        The Met will only be liable if they can be shown to be culpable in some sense for Levine’s actions.

  • Tony says:

    As a point of law or history, Did the BBC have to pay anything for Jimmy Savile’s misdeeds? I have no idea.

    In both instances it is undeniable that stories of the anti-social activities of these men were known to many within the organisations and were widespread outside them, for decades, yet everyone simply shrugged their shoulders.

  • william osborne says:

    Most of what has come to light took place during the second half of the 60s and early 70s when Levine was working with a host of organizations: the Cleveland Orchestra as an assistant conductor, as the Director of the Ravinia Festival (a Chicago Symphony summer festival,) as a teacher at the Meadow Brook School of Music, and as a teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Some of the activity continued after he became Music Director of the Met in 1976. So five different major institutions would have been held accountable, except that statutes of limitation now apply. It shows how widespread the complicity has been. And recent events at schools of music at Utah State, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Berklee School of Music in Boston, the University of Connecticut, and several other places, show that the problem continues.

    • william osborne says:

      In terms of this complicity, we might also think about why the NYT and New Yorker didn’t break the story even though the victim who first came forward, Ashok Pai, contacted them first. Eventually, the NY Post broke the story. Why would the NYT with its massive resources not have investigated? Why would the New Yorker, which has broken some of the most massive stories in American history, like the Mai Lai massacre, not have investigated? An analysis might help us understand the decades long complicity of so many institutions in the classical music world.

      • Michael Endres says:

        Very good and relevant questions.
        Whilst these media are relentlessly uncovering anything regarding Trump ( and there are good reasons to do so ) , their apparent lack of investigative enthusiasm when it comes to Levine over decades is very disturbing.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Not really true. There were several investigations but they never uncovered anything substantial enough to be published. They found lots of smoke but no fire. They weren’t sure whether Levine suffered unfair abuse for being homosexual, or if there was anything serious in the rumours.

  • anon says:

    One was found guilty, the other is not even being investigated much less prosecuted. Apples and oranges. Stop confounding crimes and behavior you disapprove of.

    I think adultery is a sin, I think all philandering conductors be stoned to death or at least have the letter “A” burnt onto their foreheads. Acceptable?

    • Brian says:

      It’s a little more than bad behavior or “conductors being conductors.” What Levine did amounted to child abuse on a pretty large scale.

      To the article’s question: the statue of limitations has been the key factor on Levine’s side so far. We’ll see where his lawsuit against the Met goes, however.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    I do wonder how long before someone writes an opera about this whole affair. Would the MET ever stage such a thing?

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    I don’t think the Met would have any reason to pay any of Levine’s victims from
    the 60’s and 70’s. If the victims were paid anything, it would most likely to have come from Levine himself. However, the Met may obliged to pay damages if some of the sexual abuse happened at the Met over the years.
    The Met has not released any details of it’s own “internal investigation” into Levine, and probably will not until the lawsuit is decided. Even then, they might not.
    I would think that the Met will have to give the results of the investigation to Levine’s attorneys. They will most likely have to state what the investigation revealed in court, if it gets that far.
    I highly doubt that Levine’s attorney will want details of the investigation aired in open court.

  • Mark says:

    It is highly unlikely that any such lawsuit would be successful (and, even if filed, would survive a motion to dismiss).
    In Larrys Nasser’s case, he was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault in the course of performing his duties as a team doctor. In this case, civil liability for his employers was almost a foregone conclusion.

    All accusations against Levine have never been proven in any court of law. The IL police investigation produced exactly nothing – just a consensual sexual relationship with a much younger man.
    Everything else is just unconfirmed tall tales.

    While a criminal conviction isn’t a prerequisite for a civil lawsuit, the plaintiffs can only sue for battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress in a civil court (unwanted sexual contact is classified as battery in most jurisdictions). The burden of proof in a civil court is lower than in a criminal one (preponderance of evidence vs. beyond a reasonable doubt), but it still has to be met by the plaintiff.
    The plaintiffs would have to prove all the elements of the tort of battery (including harm, physical or emotional).
    Could this be accomplished 50 years after the events ? Possible, but highly unlikely.

    Finally (and assuming that the lawsuit isn’t time-barred), the Met’s liability is highly questionable. The employer’s liability in most jurisdictions is limited to the torts (that is, personal injury) perpetrated by its employees acting within the scope of their employment. Did something occur on the Met’s premises ? Did any of the accusers have any connection to the Met?
    Anything occurring during a summer school affiliated with another institution is hardly within the limits of the Met’s supervisory responsibility.

    • Sharon says:

      Could be that the reason that Levine is suing for defamation which normally, in my opinion, would be a very foolish thing if the Met were willing to settle with him for breach of contract, is that he is afraid that not clearing his name might give his accusers the incentive to file their own lawsuits against Levine.

      I personally believe that this is unlikely but you never know. If you look up “Shoky Pai” on Google or see his interview on Radar Online you will know how media connected and publicity hungry he is (or wants to be)

      • Mark says:

        Of course. Not suing for defamation would be tantamount to a tacit admission of culpability.
        But if Levine’s lawyers get the Met to produce the Cleary report, the accusers wil have only two choices – testify under oath (and be subject to cross-examination) or issue a retraction.

        • Sharon says:

          If the Cleary report is used in a trial it would have to become part of the public record. Why would either party want this?

          Furthermore, the investigators promised that those whom they interviewed could remain aonymous.

          • Mark says:

            The Met has filed a reply with counterclaims. So the report will be discoverable, as their counterclaims are based on it.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      As an aside. Is Levine’s argument that anything that might have happened did not happen as part of his employment at the Met, and hence he can not reasonably be fired. The Met seems to want to argue that: (i) the actions did not take place as part of Levine’s employment; (ii) Levine’s actions were sufficiently reprehensive to justify his dismissal.

      If I understand Mark correctly, he believes that the Met can not argue (i) and (ii) at the same time since Levine’s actions outside the Met, as long as they were not criminal, can not be cause for dismissal. (I happen to disagree on this point, but I think it is what the Met’s case hinges on).

  • Heinrich von Brunck says:

    The Nassar business was most likely a fake from start to finish.
    Why? Read this essay:

    • Bill says:

      Right, the ravings of a nut job who claims to have corrected Newton and Einstein.

      • Hartbold Ahrschwaermer says:

        The rapidity of your ad hominem attack and the complete lack of factual or logical counter-arguments is a glowing endorsement of Mathis’s work.

        • Bill says:

          If he had some actual factual basis for his arguments, it might have been worth the time. Instead he goes on about “the usual crypto-Jewish ruling families” and other nonsense. Attacking people because they have Jewish names is par for his course. So he is free to dish it out, but can’t take it?

  • Jim says:

    Neither here nor there, but all kinds of mixed feelings about Levine.
    1) We all knew (no, I never was part of the Met or even lived in NY) about his propensities, and nobody said a word. (But yes, everybody knew he liked boys.)
    2) His contributions were great and undisputed. The MET has removed his recordings from their online archive. Does eliminating any recognition of his considerable professional accomplishments do his victims any good?

    • Sharon says:

      Do you have any info that the Met has actually removed Levine from their online archives and that his performances can no longer be downloaded? I had just thought that they had stopped broadcasting his performances on Met Opera radio.

      Many bloggers, including myself, speculate that the main reason that the broadcasts stopped were financial reasons, licensing, royalties etc that are to be negotiated during the court case.

      It certainly has nothing to do with the victims.