Montreal orchestra launches probe after Dutoit sexual misconduct allegations

Stu Rosner

Conductor Charles Dutoit at Symphony Hall.

Associated Press 

SAN FRANCISCO — A Canadian orchestra launched a sexual harassment investigation after receiving a complaint that names renowned conductor Charles Dutoit, a spokesman said Sunday.

The probe by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, where Dutoit served as music director for nearly 25 years, comes after the Associated Press on Thursday reported allegations against him by three opera singers and a classical musician who said he sexually assaulted them in incidents between 1985 and 2010.


Dutoit’s office issued a statement saying those allegations ‘‘have absolutely no basis in truth.’’ An e-mail to his office seeking comment on the new complaint was not immediately returned Sunday.

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra said its executive committee on Saturday decided to have an independent third party conduct an investigation following the complaint to ‘‘establish the relevant facts’’ and make recommendations on how to prevent sexual harassment.

Spokesman Pascale Ouimet confirmed that the complaint refers to Dutoit. He also said it was not made by two women named in AP’s story.

The four women who spoke to AP said the Swiss-born conductor physically restrained them, forced his body against theirs, sometimes put his tongue in their mouths and, in one case, stuck her hand down his pants.

Dutoit was a frequent guest conductor for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. But on Thursday, the BSO announced it was severing ties with him after the news broke of allegations against him.


Eight major symphonies, including the BSO, have ended their relationships with Dutoit since the AP’s story was published.

Dutoit has traveled the world as a guest conductor and led several highly regarded orchestras, including the Orchestra National de France, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

His long relationship with Montreal came to an end in 2002 following a dispute with the musicians’ union.