Famed Chicago Symphony guest conductor accused in sex scandal

Charles Dutoit conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last April

Charles Dutoit conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last April

The allegations date between 1985 and 2010 across numerous cities in the U.S. Dutoit recently conducted performances of Strauss' "Salome" at the Verbier Festival and is still scheduled to lead performances with the New York Philharmonic in January.

A 24-year-old musician who played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago said Dutoit tried to "kiss" her and "push his body" on her when he was guest-conducting the orchestra.

The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have today issued statements cancelling all upcoming engagements with veteran conductor Charles Dutoit - following allegations of sexual misconduct. The women accuse him of variously pressing himself against them, forcibly kissing them and groping them.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said Friday that it had jointly decided with Dutoit that he was released from "forthcoming concert obligations with the orchestra for the immediate future".

"He threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his trousers and shoved his tongue down my throat", retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen told the Associated Press, which conducted interviews with all four of the accusers. The reaction has been swift in the classical music world following the graphic sexual assault accusations made to The Associated Press.

The women told The Associated Press that Dutoit physically restrained them, sometimes thrust his tongue into their mouths, and in one case stuck one of their hands down his trousers.

They took that action after Dutoit was accused of sexual assault by four women.

Canadian journalist Nathalie Gauthier had previously written about a 1995 incident in which Dutoit kissed her forehead and touched her leg during an interview. Dutoit also did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the AP. He said that Dutoit's "inappropriate behaviour with women [was] common knowledge in the classical music business".

The orchestra also says it has ended its affiliation with Dutoit, its chief conductor from 2008-12.

Dutoit is artistic director and principal conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He was artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, music director of the Orchestre National de France for a decade, and is now music director emeritus of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.

His tenure at the RPO began in 2009, and he is contracted to hold his positions until 2019, when he is scheduled to receive the new title of honorary conductor for life.

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