NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Former longtime Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has sued the New York operation for breach of contract and defamation three days after the company fired him when an investigation found he had “engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct.”
Levine accuses opera GM Peter Gelb of making an effort “to oust Levine from the Met and completely erase his legacy from the organization,” according to the lawsuit, as quoted in the New York Times, and that Levine “has clearly and unequivocally denied any wrongdoing in connection with these allegations.”
Levine said that the Met and Gelb hijacked “the good will of the #MeToo movement” and “brazenly sezed on these allegations as a pretext to end a longstanding personal campaign to force Levine out of the Met.
Levine conducted the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years.
The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court March 15, seeks at least $5.8 million in damages to restore Levine’s name, reputation and career.
The Met suspended Levine in December after the New York Post and New York Times reported allegations of sexual misconduct from three men who claimed Levine took advantage of them decades ago when they were young music students. A fourth man later came forward to say Levine sexually abused him when he was a music student.
The lawsuit claims that one of Levine’s accusers sent him friendly messages decades after the alleged abuse without accusing him of anything and even asking to visit. It also claims the Met wouldn’t tell Levine the names of some of the accusers and that it acknowledged there were no complaints against Levine in 46 years with the opera company.
“It is shocking that Mr. Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions and has today instead decided to lash out at the Met with a suit riddled with untruths,” attorney Betsy Plevan said in a statement to the Associated Press, adding that Levine was fired because of “credible and corroborated evidence of sexual misconduct.”