James Levine, the former music director of Ravinia Festival accused of sexual abuse of a Kenilworth teenager in 1986, will not face criminal charges in Lake County because of the law at the time, according to a news release from State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim.
Ashok Pai, a Kenilworth native who now lives in New York City, said he had several sexual encounters with Levine between 1986 and 1993, starting when he was 16, in a Lake Forest hotel room, according to a December 3 New York Times story.
When the alleged events took place in 1986, the age of consent for sexual activity in Illinois was 16, according to Nerheim’s news release. There were no allegations of force by Levine, leading Nerheim’s office to conclude criminal charges were not warranted.
“At the time the allegations occurred the conduct was not illegal,” said Cynthia Vargas, communications manager for the State’s Attorney’s Office. “There was no crime.”
What started with an accusation by Pai first made public December 2 in the New York Post led both Ravinia and the Metropolitan Opera of New York, where Levine was music director from 1976 to 2006, to sever all ties with him. Three more men made abuse allegations in the next two days, according to the New York Times .
Levine remained silent until December 7 when he denied the allegations of all four accusers, according to the Times.
“As understandably troubling as the accusations noted in recent press accounts are, they are unfounded,” Levine said in a written statement published in the Times. “As anyone who truly knows me will attest, I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor.”
Pai first reported his allegations to the Lake Forest Police in October 2016. The police conducted an investigation, speaking to witnesses close to both Pai and Levine, according to the release. Vargas said Nerheim and his staff began their review a week ago.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, considering the specific conduct disclosed by the complainant, the age of the complainant at the time, all of the evidence in the case and the applicable law and the relevant age of consent in Illinois at the time of the alleged incidents, it is our decision that no criminal charges can be brought,” stated the release.
Since the time of the alleged incidents, Illinois raised the age of consent to 17. The age is 18 “where the suspect is in a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the victim,” according to the release. There were no such provisions at the time the alleged events occurred.
Click here to read the New York Times story detailing the allegations.
Click here to read the New York Times story containing Levine’s denial.