Acclaimed organist found responsible for sexual misconduct at College of the Holy Cross

James David Christie.
James David Christie.HIROYUKI ITO/GETTY IMAGES/FILE 2000/Getty Images

An internationally acclaimed organist and former artist-in-residence and instructor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester has been found responsible for multiple instances of sexual misconduct at the school, the college president announced Tuesday.

James David Christie was found “responsible for multiple violations of the College’s prohibitions on sexual harassment and misconduct based on information gathered during” an internal investigation, the Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, the Jesuit school’s president, said in a letter to the Holy Cross community.

“These findings represent a serious violation of our standards for conduct and a grave abuse of Mr. Christie’s position at the College,” said Boroughs.


Holy Cross, as well as Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, had previously cut ties with Christie amid misconduct allegations. Christie resigned his Holy Cross post and also left Oberlin, where he was a professor of organ and chair of the organ department.

When the misconduct allegations surfaced last August, Holy Cross placed Christie on administrative leave, banned him from campus and from contacting members of the school’s community, and launched a probe into the allegations.

Jake Street, one of the former Holy Cross students who has accused Christie of misconduct, said in a statement that the school holding Christie is a good first step.

“Christie was not alone, however,” he said. “Holy Cross must respond publicly to its faculty’s request for an independent investigator into sexual misconduct. A transparent investigation is the only way to restore trust in college leadership.”

Christie remains subject to a no-trespass order and he is not permitted on any college properties, according to Boroughs’s letter. The college plans to revoke any awards or honors given to Christie, and his employment record will reflect that he was deemed terminated for findings of multiple violations of the school’s sexual harassment and misconduct policies. Holy Cross will release that information to anyone seeking employment verification or references for Christie, said Boroughs.


According to his letter, the school plans on notifying any organizations that were referenced in the internal investigation’s reports regarding Christie’s alleged misconduct.

Additionally, the school plans to develop new policies “to establish clear and appropriate expectations for interactions between faculty or staff and students, on and off campus,” and will require additional mandatory training on the sexual misconduct policy for all employees.

Christie played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for decades, and he served as Wellesley College organist for years. He has appeared on numerous recordings and has strong ties to the Boston area, where his work with the BSO has been singled out by reviewers in recent years.

A group of former students wrote to Boroughs last year, charging that Christie “is an imminent danger to students on your campus.”

“Several of us were sexually abused by Prof. Christie while we were Holy Cross students,” the group wrote in its Aug. 3 letter. “Holy Cross has enabled Prof. Christie’s misconduct, and has a responsibility now to respond to our coming forward as quickly and decisively as possible.”

In interviews with the Globe, former students at Holy Cross and Oberlin described a consistent pattern of sexual harassment by Christie. Some said the organist used his considerable artistic standing to manipulate and cajole students, dangling before them entrance to some of classical music’s most rarefied circles. Former students also described a sexually charged environment that included lewd comments, large amounts of alcohol, and unwanted touching over a period between 1994 and 2017.


Boroughs, in his letter, said that Christie “declined to participate in the investigations or the adjudication process.”

“I am deeply sorry for what our alumni experienced,” said Boroughs. “It is simply unacceptable that anyone would experience this kind of behavior at Holy Cross.”

Messages left with Oberlin staff were not immediately returned Tuesday night. The Oberlin Review reported in March that a firm investigating the allegations against Christie at that school concluded that “there is evidence that Mr. Christie in all likelihood grossly abused his position of trust and violated Oberlin College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, and professional code of conduct.”

Malcolm Gay of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.