Conductor Dutoit denies sexual assault allegations
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LONDON — Renowned conductor Charles Dutoit on Saturday denied serious accusations of sexual misconduct that have caused major symphonies in Europe, Australia and the United States to suspend relationships with him.
Dutoit’s office issued a statement saying the allegations “have absolutely no basis in truth” and vowed to mount a meaningful defense. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that three singers and a musician had accused him of sexual assault.
His first response to the allegations was defiant.
“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,” he said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.
“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.”
The 81-year-old Dutoit is artistic director and principal conductor at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. The orchestra said Friday it had jointly decided with Dutoit to relieve him of upcoming concert obligations.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association issued a statement Thursday announcing the news of Dutoit’s withdrawal from concerts series scheduled for March and April 2018 at Symphony Center.
The Philadelphia Orchestra, its chief conductor from 2008-12, on Friday also cut ties with Dutoit and said in a statement it has removed his title of conductor laureate following the allegations of sexual misconduct.
It brought to eight the number of major symphonies that have ended long relationships with Dutoit since Thursday when The Associated Press published a story with graphic sexual assault accusations by the four women.
The Sydney, Boston and San Francisco symphonies also announced they were cutting ties with Dutoit, citing the “serious nature of the allegations” detailed by the AP. Meanwhile, orchestras in New York, Chicago and Cleveland quickly released statements saying that Dutoit has withdrawn his services for upcoming concerts.