New York's Metropolitan Opera says it has suspended longtime conductor James Levine amid accusations of sexual misconduct going back almost 50 years. Levine, 74, was suspended Sunday after two more men came forward with accusations following a report that he abused a teenager in the 1980s, the New York Daily News reports. "Based on these new reports, the Met has made the decision to act now, while we await the results of the investigation," says Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager. "This is [a] tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected." The two new accusers both say Levine masturbated them in 1968, when he was 25 and they were 17-year-old music students in Michigan. The opera has hired former US Attorney Robert Cleary to investigate the accusations.
Levine, the Met's music director from 1976 to 2016, "will not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances at the Met this season," the Met said in a statement, per the AP. Classical-music insiders say Levine's behavior has long been an "open secret." The accusers say Levine groomed them by encouraging their musical talents. Among them is Ashok Pai, now 48, who has filed a police report in Illinois over abuse that he says began when he was 16 and continued for years. "I was vulnerable," Pai tells the New York Times. "I was under this man's sway, I saw him as a safe, protective person, he took advantage of me, he abused me, and it has really messed me up."