Montreal Symphony Orchestra Launches Harassment Probe Following New Charles Dutoit Claim

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Charles Dutoit

The orchestra has opened an investigation after receiving a complaint about the conductor, who has been accused of sexual assault by four women.

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 email 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 the 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.

Eight major symphonies 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.