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Philadelphia Orchestra finds claims of Charles Dutoit sexual harassment credible

A Philadelphia Orchestra internal investigation into sexual misconduct claims against famed conductor Charles Dutoit has found them to be credible. Dutoit performed 650 concerts with the orchestra since his 1980 debut.

Charles Dutoit leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2011.
Charles Dutoit leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2011.Read moreFILE PHOTO

A Philadelphia Orchestra internal investigation into sexual misconduct claims against conductor Charles Dutoit during his time with the orchestra has found them to be credible, while an investigation commissioned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra into allegations of sexual harassment by Dutoit during his time there as principal conductor has ended after being unable to confirm the claims.

Dutoit, 82, was accused of various forms of sexual misconduct in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Associated Press articles last December and January. The Swiss-born conductor with deep Philadelphia ties responded at the time by saying that the allegations "have absolutely no basis in truth."

After sexual misconduct complaints about Dutoit surfaced in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchestra launched an investigation, and on Thursday an orchestra spokesperson said that "our internal investigation found reports to be credible."

Asked to say how many claims there were and whether the findings resulted in any action from the orchestra, Ashley Berke said the orchestra would not be commenting further on the matter, but added: "As per our previous statements, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association does not tolerate harassment of any kind and is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and respectful work environment."

Although Dutoit was never music director in Philadelphia, he had a long and fruitful relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing 650 concerts with the orchestra in the years following his 1980 debut.

He was artistic director of the orchestra's season at the Mann Center each summer from 1990 to 1999. He held the same title for 21 years at the orchestra's annual residency in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.  He assumed an interim leadership role from 2008 to 2012 as the orchestra's chief conductor before the beginning of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's tenure as music director.

Dutoit on Thursday did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

The Montreal Symphony said that although the procedure it employed "was rigorous and conformed to best practices in cases of internal inquiries into sexual harassment, the process did not yield sufficient information in relation to allegations of sexual harassment," according to a statement first published on the blog Slipped Disc. "In light of the independent expert's work, the two plaintiffs did not wish to follow up on their grievances and did not consider it opportune to provide formal declarations with respect to these allegations. As a result, the process of inquiry concluded in mid-October."

Relations between Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony soured in 2002 when he resigned his post there, although he returned in 2016 as a guest. Reached Thursday, following news of the Philadelphia Orchestra's finding, a spokesperson for the Montreal Symphony said that the orchestra "no longer has any professional or contractual relationship with Mr. Dutoit and harbours no plans whatsoever to invite him to conduct."

The Philadelphia Orchestra in December severed its relationship with Dutoit and revoked his "conductor laureate" title.

Dutoit was recently named principal guest conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, effective this season.