A world-renowned conductor has been accused of sexual assault by three opera singers and a classical musician. The AP reports that the women accused conductor Charles Dutoit of “physically restraining them, forcing his body against theirs, sometimes thrusting his tongue into their mouths, and in one case, sticking one of their hands down his pants.”
The accusers gave detailed accounts of incidents that allegedly occurred between 1985 and 2010, taking place “in a moving car, the two-time Grammy winner’s hotel suite, his dressing room, an elevator and the darkness of backstage,” the AP reports.
Dutoit, 81, is the artistic director and principal conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The alleged incidents reportedly took place in five cities — Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The report quotes retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen recounting an alleged incident in Dutoit’s dressing room at the LA Opera in September 1991, in which she says the Swiss-born conductor “threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his pants and shoved his tongue down my throat.”
“Soprano Sylvia McNair, herself a two-time Grammy winner, said Dutoit ‘tried to have his way’ with her at a hotel after a rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985,” the AP reports, quoting McNair saying: “As soon as it was just the two of us in the elevator, Charles Dutoit pushed me back against the elevator wall and pressed his knee way up between my legs and pressed himself all over me.”
The AP notes: “The other two accusers did not want to be identified, saying they feared speaking up because the power the famous maestro wields could lead to them being blacklisted from the industry.”