Former Ravinia Festival Music Director James Levine is under investigation by New York’s Metropolitan Opera over allegations of sexual abuse of a North Shore teenager in a Lake Forest hotel room in 1985, according to multiple news sources.
Though the opera learned about the allegations last year when it became aware of report filed by the alleged victim with the Lake Forest Police Department in October 2016, it took no action because Levine denied the accusations, according to the New York Times.
When the opera received multiple media inquiries about the accusations, the Met began its investigation, according to both the New York Times and New York Post. Levine has been the opera’s music director since 1976 and is now its director emeritus, according to its website.
Levine was Ravinia’s music director from 1973 to 1993, according to the Chicago Tribune. Ravinia announced in April Levine was to become the festival’s conductor laureate directing Chicago Symphony concerts for the next five years.
Ravinia officials first learned of the accusations late on the afternoon of December 1, according to an email from spokesperson Allie Brightwell to DailyNorthShore. She said the organization learned the details from media reports December 2.
“We understand from these articles that investigations are ongoing,” Brightwell said in the email. “Ravinia finds these allegations very disturbing and contrary to its zero-tolerance policies and culture. Ravinia will take any actions that it deems appropriate following the results of these investigations.”
The victim, who gave interviews to the Times and the Post on condition that his name not be revealed, is now 48. He said he finally came forward and went to the police because he “only recently realized” that his history with Levine was affecting his life in “a negative manner,” according to the Times’ quote from the police report.
The alleged abuse began in 1985 when the victim was 15 and continued until 1993 in both Illinois and New York, including hundreds of incidents over that span in a Lake Forest hotel, the newspapers reported.
Though the statute of limitations has lapsed on the alleged abuse, the Lake Forest Police still turned the results of its investigation over to Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim. The Chicago Tribune reported that Nerheim’s office is reviewing the information.
In a case that took place around the same time period where a former Lake Bluff Middle School teacher was accused by some of his students of abuse, Nerheim found a way to charge that defendant despite the years between the acts and the reports of them. The defendant in that case pled guilty.