Met Opera Suspends Conductor Following Sexual Abuse Charges by Indian-origin Man, Others

Ashok Pai, a U.S. national of Indian origin, said that he suffered years of abuse by Levine.


The Metropolitan (Met) Opera of New York suspended its former music director and longtime conductor James Levine on Dec. 4, following accusations of sexual abuse leveled against him by an Indian-origin man and two others when they were teenagers. Yet another man, Albin Ifsich, came out to say later on Dec. 4 that Levine abused him for years.

Rumors about Levine’s sexual misbehavior had been floating around, but they were not investigated until Ashok Pai came forward in 2016 and lodged a complaint with the Illinois police.

Other famous music organizations, which have been associated with Levine for decades and have contributed to his reputation, have severed ties with him.

The complaint by 48-year-old Pai came nine years after the statute of limitation for reporting such crimes was over. Pai had called a former Met board member Beth Glynn who told him to go to the police. Glynn also spoke to the Met Opera general manager about the phone call.

“Based on recent accounts in the media regarding James Levine, Ravinia has severed all ties with (him),” the statement issued by Ravinia Music Festival said. “Ravinia maintains a zero-tolerance policy and culture on sexual harassment. We are deeply troubled and saddened by the allegations and sympathize with everyone who has been hurt.”

Glynn told Lake Forest Police Detective Wendy Dumont that there were “always rumors” about Levine “because he was socially awkward but he never had any issues at the Metropolitan Opera House for 40 years,” according to the police complaint, which the New York Post quoted.

The abuse continued from the 1960s to 1980s. Pai first met Levine as a 4-year-old at the Ravinia Music Festival, where he was taken backstage to meet the conductor by his parents. He began going backstage alone when he was 14 years old.

“He started holding my hand in a prolonged and incredibly sensual way,” Pai wrote in his complaint. “I was not aroused as I never was during my relationship with him as I am a heterosexual individual. But there were some feelings of affection and mostly confusion. … I was very uncomfortable with the hand holding.”

In later years, the abuse increased and he was also fondled multiple times. Another man who spoke out against the abuse was Chris Brown, who said Levine abused him in 1968 when he was a 17-year-old student and Levine was a 25-year-old teacher at a summer program in Michigan. The third man was James Lestock, who said he was abused in 1968 at the summer program when he was 17 years old.

The  fourth man, Albin Ifsich, said that Levine abused him for years beginning in 1968 when he was 20 years old. Ifsich was a student at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan at the time.

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