In the wake of an Inquirer investigation, a Curtis Institute of Music spokesperson said that the school is reviewing its policies regarding sexual assault.
“The board of trustees, in consultation with senior Curtis leadership, is evaluating the situation and will determine what additional steps — beyond those currently in place — need to occur,” Curtis’s Patricia K. Johnson said in a statement late Thursday night.
An Inquirer story published online Thursday morning detailed violinist Lara St. John’s claim that as a student she had been sexually assaulted by professor Jascha Brodsky in the 1980s, then ignored and mocked when she complained to the school’s dean.
Four other women told The Inquirer that, as students, they had been pursued sexually by Brodsky, a revered figure in the classical music world.
If changes in policies around sexual abuse and harassment are warranted, “absolutely they will be made," Johnson said in a Friday interview. “Our primary concern is that we have an environment here where it doesn’t happen, but of course if and when it does, be prepared to address it."
In an early Thursday email, Curtis told alumni and others not to talk publicly about the story. “Out of respect for all those involved, we request that you refrain from discussing this matter publicly, online, or on social media,” Johnson wrote.
The attempt to tamp down on discussion struck many as tone deaf to the times, and left them angered.
“This is Curtis’s opportunity to show that they are truly concerned about students past, present and future by actually being open to admitting that wrongdoing happened and encouraging discussion around it,” wrote violinist and Curtis graduate Gloria Justen on Facebook. “I’m disappointed but not surprised at their instruction to hush this up.”
Also late Thursday night on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, the school did not apologize for its call for silence but said it regretted that its first communication struck some as insensitive.
“At Curtis, we take issues of abuse very seriously, and we deeply sympathize with all victims of assault. We sincerely regret not properly conveying today the weight of our commitment to these values.”
Versions of Curtis’ new message were being readied to send to alumni, trustees, and others sometime Friday, Johnson said.