Royal Philharmonic cuts ties with Charles Dutoit over assault allegations


Dutoit and his representatives have yet to make a statement.

A distinguished orchestra conductor accused of past sexual misconduct by four women has been temporarily released from his job leading London's premiere orchestra, the organization announced Friday.

The symphony said in a statement that the "serious nature" of the allegations as well as the symphony's "strong commitment to a zero tolerance policy" for sexual harassment in the workplace contributed to its decision. Meanwhile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony have severed ties with the Swiss-born conductor.

"A.B.T. was made aware of a highly concerning allegation of sexual misconduct by Mr. Gomes, occurring approximately eight years ago", the chairman of the company's board of trustees, Andrew F. Barth, told the Times.

Dutoit, who is the principal conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was scheduled to conduct the San Francisco Symphony for two weeks in April in concerts expected to include pieces by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel as well as Gustav Holst's The Planets. The New York Philharmonic also told the AP that Dutoit has withdrawn from a series of concerts scheduled in January in the wake of the allegations. Dutoit's accusers said they were inspired by other victims of sexual misconduct who have recently come forward.

Dutoit has not responded to multiple phone and email messages seeking comment. The Swiss-born conductor is now also artistic director of London's Royal Philharmonic and holds positions in Tokyo and Philadelphia.

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One woman who spoke to Associated Press said Dutoit attacked her on four occasions while she was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has been a regular conductor there since 1981. Dutoit is also being accused by an unnamed Chicago musician of sexually assaulting her in 2006 when he was guest conducting the CSO.

The statement came in response to an AP story earlier in the day in which three opera singers and one classical musician accused Dutoit of sexual assault and provided detailed accounts of alleged incidents between 1985 and 2010 in five US cities.

The orchestra has released a statement saying that it, along with Dutoit, "have jointly agreed to release him from his forthcoming concert obligations with the orchestra for the immediate future", adding that it is "committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour".

The alleged incidents took place between 1985 and 2010.

Three opera singers and a musician say Dutoit forced himself on them, the Associated Press news agency reported.