Bombshell: Montreal clears Charles Dutoit of sexual harassment

Bombshell: Montreal clears Charles Dutoit of sexual harassment


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2018

The independent investigator has reported and here’s the key finding:

For all intents and purposes and within the purview of my investigation, I dealt with two grievances of sexual harassment involving M. Charles Dutoit. I met with and/or contacted the plaintiffs on several occasions. Though the procedure employed was rigorous and conformed to best practices in cases of internal inquiries into sexual harassment, the process did not yield sufficient information in relation to allegations of sexual harassment.

Below you will find the full statement from the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, where Dutoit was music director from 1977 to 2002. Elsewhere, the Boston Symphony has found harassment allegations against him to be credible. Dutoit, 82, denied all allegations, which range from groping to actual rape.

UPDATE: But Philadelphia upholds claims against Dutoit

MONTREAL, Nov. 6, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) announces the completion of an internal investigation into sexual harassment within the institution. The investigation was carried out by an independent expert who received the mandate in early 2018 after a rash of public accusations involving Charles Dutoit.

The OSM accepts the independent expert’s recommendation to both tighten the terms and broaden scope of the institution’s policy on workplace harassment. Consequently, the OSM will adopt a new policy to this effect. The new proposed version as recommended by the independent expert will be discussed with the Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec, the professional association of which OSM musicians are members, before it is submitted for final approval by the Orchestra’s Executive Committee.

The portion of the investigation resulting from allegations of sexual harassment encompasses both current OSM staff and all persons employed there in the past. Regarding M. Charles Dutoit, it bears mentioning that he served as Principal Conductor of the OSM from 1977 to 2002.

Following the completion of her work, the independent expert formulated the following conclusion: “For all intents and purposes and within the purview of my investigation, I dealt with two grievances of sexual harassment involving M. Charles Dutoit. I met with and/or contacted the plaintiffs on several occasions. Though the procedure employed was rigorous and conformed to best practices in cases of internal inquiries into sexual harassment, the process did not yield sufficient information in relation to allegations of sexual harassment.” In light of the independent expert’s work, the two plaintiffs did not wish to follow up on their grievances and did not consider it opportune to provide formal declarations with respect to these allegations. As a result, the process of inquiry concluded in mid-October.

The independent expert based the procedure for her investigation on a model recommended by the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (Quebec Order of Authorized Human Resources Counsellors)’s Code de conduite – Enquête interne à la suite d’une plainte pour harcèlement au travail (Code of practice – Internal investigation following a complaint of workplace harassment), published at:(

She was also guided in the investigation by the Guide des meilleures pratiques à l’intention des avocats effectuant des enquêtes sur des plaintes de harcèlement psychologique en milieu de travail (Lawyers’ guide to best practices when conducting inquiries into complaints of psychological harassment in the workplace), published by the Quebec Bar at : (

“We sincerely empathize with the two plaintiffs who decided, for reasons entirely their own, not to follow up on their complaints in the context of this investigation,” Madeleine Careau, the OSM’s Chief Executive Officer declared. “We respect their personal choice, and with all advisement welcome the independent expert’s work. We must now acknowledge the results of this investigation and learn from its conclusions. To that end, we will adopt a new, stronger and more comprehensive workplace harassment policy. This new policy will be aligned with known best practices and be based on the principle of zero tolerance in matters of harassment, whatever form it takes.”


  • Sharon says:

    Seems to me was that what the investigator was saying was that she did not have enough info because the witnesses decided that they did not want continue with the investigation, not that Dutoit was necessarily innocent.

    However, if a man is innocent until PROVEN guilty does this mean that the Montreal Symphony should be willing to rehire Dutoit?

    • Emil says:

      In Montreal it is a moot point, since Dutoit was already in open conflict with the OSM. He conducted two concerts at a festival a few years ago, outside of the OSM regular season, and musicians were given the option to opt out with full pay, and there was no plan to repeat the experience.

      But clearly, irrespective of this, no. There is no doubt that Dutoit sustained an unhealthy workplace environment (with or without sexual harassment/assault), and that is plenty to justify him not conducting the OSM again.

      • Jane Brown says:

        Poor Emil….you think Charles Dutoit would ever agree to conduct the Montreal Symphony again? Think again. He’s got better things to do. Like conduct the St Petersburg Philharmonic these days in Asia.

      • Karl says:

        “Charles Dutoit’s OSM comeback a joyous affair” according to the Montreal Gazette back in 2016. I was there and I saw the same thing. He’s an old style conductor. Others like Szell and Reiner were very hard on musicians who they didn’t think were playing up to par.

    • Alex Davies says:

      No, because when you say ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and when you write ‘proven’ in capital letters, you are essentially referring to the principles that apply in a criminal court, where presumption of innocence and proof beyond reasonable doubt are essential because the defendant may lose his liberty (and, until recently, his life). What we are looking at here is an employment case, so the question that a court would have to ask would be whether, on the balance of probabilities, it was more likely or not that Charles Dutoit had at some point in the course of his employment committed one or more offences of sexual harassment. While this investigation was inconclusive, if the case were to be tried in a civil court, the complainants would presumably be required to submit oral or written evidence under oath. It would then be for the court to decide whether it seemed more likely or not that the witnesses were telling the truth.

      One also has to ask whether it’s likely that Dutoit even wants his job back or, at any rate, whether he wants to fight for it. Unless he knows that he is completely innocent (which, of course, he may be) and he believes that there is not a shred of credible evidence against him (which there may not be), he probably would not want to make himself vulnerable to the potential further damage to his reputation. Nor does he stand to gain very much either. He is 82 years old, he has already had an extraordinary career, and he has more money than he will be able to spend over the remaining course of his life. Why would he go to court to fight for a job that he doesn’t need and probably doesn’t even want when the risks are that he could lose a lot of money and that his reputation could be further damaged?

      With many cases that have come to light recently people have been quick to state the principle that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and that guilt must mean proof beyond reasonable doubt, but I fear that they are at best misguided and at worst trying to defend the indefensible. The kind of guilt that is determined in a criminal court is only one kind of guilt.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…he was no longer employed by the OSM when the allegations became public. The only job he resigned from was the RPO. Since he wasn’t fired, he can’t sue.

      If he had been fired, and he did sue, then it would be “on the balance of the evidence”, not “proven beyond reasonable doubt”. You are trying to use criminal law concepts in a civil case.

      On balance, it seems unlikely anyone else will hire him, since his reputation is too damaged. He really can’t sue an organisation because they don’t want to hire him and force them to take him. Organisations really can decide they think someone is “a horrible person” and consequently refuse to have them.

  • Phillip Ayling says:

    “We can’t prove that Dutoit crossed the line with regards to sexual harassment, but it doesn’t matter because we are moving that line anyway”

    Perhaps it makes more sense in French.

    • Emil says:

      Yes, just like ‘the horse didn’t race the open door, but we’ll replace the broken bolt anyway’ makes sense.

  • red says:

    The fact that many alleged victims aren’t pursuing legal action is worry some for the justice system.
    We end up with many alleged victims and culprits that have been prosomptly judged by the media and social media. Lifed have been prosomptly ruined without any indépendant judgment from our legal system. Wrong doings should be prosecuted that is from the acts of the culprit or possible false allegations.

    • Emil says:

      …Which would be a very valid point if the justice system were not designed to make such prosecutions extremely difficult, if not often impossible.

      • Mark says:

        That’s because people’s lives and reputations are at stake. Getting any sort of a conviction or a finding of liability is difficult by design – it’s only easy in totalitarian regimes, where accusations are synonymous with guilt.

    • Peter says:

      Red, what is this word “prosomptly” . You used it twice, so I guess not a typo. I can’t get a definition from google. What does it mean ?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      You seem to be confused between criminal trials and an organisation’s right to choose its employees. An organisation really doesn’t need to get a criminal conviction before it decides it doesn’t want to hire someone.

  • Emil says:

    No the Orchestra did not “clear” him. The victims refused to testify (partly, perhaps, because the Orchestra has a fraught history of protecting Dutoit against accusations of misconduct, bullying, etc., that understandably makes victims wary of collaborating with the Orchestra, or perhaps they just prefer to put this episode behind them and move on); this does not mean he is “cleared”. “Cleared” would mean the Orchestra says the alleged assaults did not happen; they do not say that, they state they have not enough evidence to pursue the investigation.

    Also to note, the OSM covered only allegations based in Montreal, during his time as MD; not the numerous accusers in the rest of the world.

    The title of the Presse Canadienne article in Le Devoir makes this clear: the investigation is “inconclusive” (“non concluante”):

    • V.Lind says:

      The Orchestra did not “protect” Dutoit here. The conclusions are those of an independent investigator. Canada has a good track record in independent investigations: when Ben Johnson was accused of doping at the Olympics all the stops were pulled out and the investigation was comprehensive, blowing open the use of doping in athletics. In the US, where rumours abounded of some similar issues in their track team, nothing at all was done, and when the US reluctantly said some time later it would start some random checks Florence Griffiths Joyner promptly hung up her track shoes — after a career of spectacular and unprecedented “improvements” month to month.

      One of my reservations about the wholly necessary and about-time “Me Too” movement is the credibility of witnesses. A massive case against a very high-profile Canadian broadcaster, Jian Ghomeshi, collapsed because it emerged that several of the complainants, all of whom had been dates or social acquaintances of Ghomeshi, continued to email and phone him after incidents that sounded pretty appalling and were the ones they complained of. The police did the investigations in these cases; his high-rent lawyer had better investigators.

      But it raised the question that dogs a number of accusations against various high-profile men: why were women who were abused willing to go back for more? Was it so enticing to be seen with a celebrity? Did it feel that good to be singled out by one? This does get tangled up with the problem of men with power over one’s career causing the difficulties and the women grinning and bearing it in order not to be cut off from opportunities they have earned.

      Dutoit’s accusers in the Montreal Investigation seem to BOTH have decided not to proceed. Independently? Or in collusion? It raises a point –collusion arose in the Ghomeshi case too. Why — because they could not prove their cases? There is rarely objective “proof” in these cases — little by way of sexual assault is committed in front of witnesses. The investigator referred to “insufficient information.” Did they suddenly clam up?

      The OSM has to accept both the investigator’s report and the withdrawal of accusations. But it may be uncomfortable with the atmosphere around them and has declared intent to work on improving that. Surely that is the correct response? Not just to say to the investigator “Thank you, ma’am, let’s move on.”

      There was clearly something not right, but if it does not arise to the level of legal procedure, there seems little else to be done but try to define the working terms of the people in your employ.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Given there is almost no chance that the OSM will hire Dutoit even to guest conduct, what would be the point of the accuser going on the record with the accusation?

  • c says:

    Hurray. A good day for orchestral music.

  • Emanuel Borok says:

    Love your choice of the picture of C.D.

  • Jane Brown says:

    Finally a real investigation….why hasn’t it been done before by other institutions?
    Oh! yes, I forgot, the Boston Symphony did. The one accuser was found “credible” even though half her testimony was rejected by the investigator.
    How far were the medias and the Montrealers willing to go to destroy a man’s career?
    Rhetorical question.
    For one, Dutoit was not fired by multiple orchestras. He withdrew himself from his US engagements. Some institutions like the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reported it correctly. Some others didn’t. Like the Boston and San Francisco Symphonies.
    There will always be jealous and frustrated people like Mr Emil.
    But I ask, if accusers, quoted by the medias in their allegations, were telling the truth, why is it that when it becomes important, like a real investigation, they suddenly don’t pursue their cases and withdraw? The excuse Mr Emil gives of fear of reprisal by the Montreal Symphony is total non-sense. This orchestra has done nothing but try to destroy this man since the beginning of this saga. Anyone would have felt strong in their position of accuser….had it been true.
    It is time for redemption!

    • Emil says:

      Yes, the Orchestra has done nothing but destroyed the life of a man who was their MD for 25 years hasn’t conducted a regular concert with the OSM for over 15 years. Trust me, the OSM would have wanted nothing more but to bury the Dutoit period and forget the circumstances of his departure, not least because the administrators from 2002 are still there today.

      As for me alleging a fear of reprisal, you may want to read what I wrote; I talk of a breach of trust, not a fear of reprisals.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    He should be conducting again because he is one of the conductors many people want to hear. After all of this, any woman should know to keep their distance. If you can do it for a dangerous looking dog you encounter when going for a walk, why not for groping conductor?

    • I must observe that no one is perfect, and the more one is in the public view, the more he is buffeted by the winds of the envious. Everyone has an opinion regarding the charges against Dutoit, much of it only speculative and all of it spurious and damaging.
      Charles Dutoit is and remains a conductor who had done important work to sustain the French repertoire in a challenging world, and in the courts he is indeed innocent until proven guilty – guilty in fact, according to the process of law, not guilty in the winds of public hearsay. Give it a rest, you guys.

    • Vienna calling says:

      The solution cannot possibly be for women to keep their distance but for him to keep it in his pants. Unless your point is that he has as much self awareness as a dog. Which, come to think of it, might be true.

  • Ed Cole says:

    Sounds like maybe when it came time to step up in a court of law and put their hand on the Bible they did not want to . Could be if they had they would be exposing themselves to a perjury charge. There are people who have past grievances against someone who will go to any length to get even.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    Hah! He should sue for defamation. It proves the wrongness of dismissing him over allegations. It proves the failure of “MeTooism” as a movement. There’s not enough substance to warrant the actions that have been taken. The hard truth is, no one else is responsible for how you feel after some kind of encounter. Facts matter. Physical harm matters. An attempt at seduction, a physical expression of attraction, no. I have never liked his conducting, but he keeps the repertoire I love alive, if improperly colored. He is essential as the only big-name conductor regularly leading French music.

  • Mark says:

    The investigator concluded something akin to the Scottish courts’ “not proved”, which is a far cry from “not guilty”. (No trial ever results in “innocent”; that is a presumption, not a verdict.) Without an ironclad alibi for all alleged instances of harassment, there is no way for M. Dutoit to be “cleared”.

  • Sharon says:

    Although parts of the Levine case involving witnesses that have not gone public are confidential, very recently part of the transcript of the public part of the case, involving the Met’s petition to dismiss Levine’s suit against them for defamation, was recently posted on the internet (Google NY Courts).

    I thought that Levine’s lawyers made a very credible case that there indeed WAS defamation (previously I had not thought this) by the Met making public statements that there is “credible evidence” for sexual harassment based on confidential interviews and thus grounds for dismissal when Levine claims there is not.

    Incidentally, Levine’s lawyer called one of the chief public witnesses, Ahok Pai, a “grifter and a stalker”. Isn’t the lawyer worried about defamation or are statements made by lawyers exempt?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…you can generally make any statement you like in the court. Otherwise how could anyone defend themselves in a trial.

  • Karl says:

    I would love to see him conduct again. The best Symphonie Fantastique ever heard was conducted by him at SPAC.

  • Steve says:

    I remember him chasing a singer in a vulgar way backstage and putting her hand down his pants with force. That will forever be my memory during the time I worked with him. Regardless of the determination of this situation, he’s a predator and there are enough people in the world who remember his behavior. This was many years ago and now, in his advanced years, he probably has a weaker libido and gained a higher level of decency and common sense.

  • Paul Lewis says:

    I think the problem here is that whatever happened between Dutoit and some female musicians this should be a matter between themselves and not for the public to give their, as usual, uninformed opinions. Therefore I am not suggesting he is innocent or guilty of these charges because of course I don`t know. However, as one of the leading conductors of French music, especially Berlioz, orchestras should make decisions based on artistic merit until it is established that musicians simply cannot work with him.