Sex misconduct allegations snag Levin, Rush, and Russell Simmons

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NEW YORK — New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Sunday suspended its relationship with former long-time music director, the acclaimed conductor James Levine, as it investigates several allegations of sexual misconduct.

The opera said in a statement that it decided to act following “multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Levine that took place from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the earlier part of his conducting career at the Met.”

The organization said Levine, Met music director for 40 years until his retirement in 2016, would not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances this season. “While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,” General Manager Peter Gelb said in the statement, adding that the action was supported by the leadership of the Met Board and its Executive Committee. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

The allegations at one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses come amid widening sexual misconduct scandals in the fields of entertainment, politics and journalism.

Academy award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush resigned as head of an Australian film industry body Saturday after allegations surfaced against him of “inappropriate behavior.”

Rush, who has denied any wrongdoing, stepped down as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), which he had led for several years, the organization said in a statement.

“AACTA acknowledges the decision today of Geoffrey Rush to voluntarily step aside as president of AACTA and accepts and respects his decision to do so,” it said. “We have been deeply concerned about the situation and support a course of action that both respects Geoffrey’s rights to the presumption of innocence and due process, but also acknowledges good corporate governance in these circumstances,” it added, declining further comment.

Rush, 66, took the step after the Sydney Theatre Company revealed last week that it had received a complaint alleging that the veteran Australian actor had engaged in “inappropriate behavior” when working with the company. No further information about the nature of the behavior or the identity of the complainant was revealed, but Australian media reports said the allegations related to Rush’s time playing King Lear for the company in 2015 and 2016.

Music producer Russell Simmons said on Thursday he was stepping down from his fashion and production businesses after a screenwriter said in a column in the Hollywood Reporter that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991.

Jenny Lumet, the screenwriter daughter of the late movie director Sidney Lumet, accused Simmons of forcing himself on her in his New York apartment in 1991.

Simmons, 60, the cofounder of hip-hop label Def Jam Records and also a film producer, apologized for his behavior in a statement on his Instagram site.

“While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real,” Simmons said in his Instagram statement. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize.” — AFP/Reuters