Today, the Associated Press reported allegations of sexual assault against the famous conductor Charles Dutoit made by four women, in incidents that span from 1985 to 2010 and that took place in five different U.S. cities.
The alleged victims include one world-famous vocalist, the Grammy winning-soprano Sylvia McNair. Now 61, McNair told the AP that Dutoit "tried to have his way" with her after a rehearsal at the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985, when she was 28 years old.
Paula Rasmussen, a former professional mezzo-soprano, alleges that Dutoit assaulted her in his dressing room at the Los Angeles Opera in September 1991.
The other two accusers chose to remain anonymous, due to Dutoit's still-significant power within the classical music world.
One of those women, an anonymous soprano, claims that Dutoit assaulted her three times in 2006, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and again in Philadelphia, in 2010.
The fourth accuser was 24 years old at the time of her alleged assault. She was a musician at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a "training" orchestra for emerging professional players associated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), when Dutoit came to the city as a guest conductor of the CSO. She says he invited her to a lunch originally scheduled at a restaurant but then changed, at Dutoit's request, to his hotel suite at the Four Seasons, where he tried to force himself on her. In a series of emails the conductor allegedly sent to her afterward, he wrote that he did not know "that an affectionate hug and kiss could have such a negative effect," but that "of course, I forgot you are still a child."
The women's stories were corroborated by friends and colleagues, who told the AP that the four had shared details about the incidents with them at the time. All four of the women told the AP that they were emboldened by the #MeToo movement, particularly after four men publicly accused another high-profile conductor, James Levine, of sexual misconduct.
The Swiss-born Dutoit, now 81 years old, maintains an international career. He is the artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, conductor laureate of the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor emeritus of Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra. Between 1977 and 2002, Dutoit was the music director of Canada's Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal. He was also music director of Paris' Orchestre National de France from 1991 to 2001. In 2009, Dutoit was named the music director of an important European summer institution, the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland; he was named Verbier's music director emeritus this year. He has also made recordings with many of the world's top orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His upcoming scheduled appearances include a January program at the New York Philharmonic.
Dutoit has been married four times, including most famously to the pianist Martha Argerich; his wife since 2010 has been violinist Chantal Juillet.
According to the AP, Dutoit has not responded to multiple attempts to reach him through various offices and institutions.