Rhinegold

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Dutoit rejects further sexual assault allegations

11:49, 12th January 2018

Another six women have alleged Charles Dutoit of sexual assault, with one of them accusing him of rape.

The women told the Associated Press (AP) they were ‘angered’ by Dutoit’s denial of the initial allegations which emerged in December 2017, and ‘wanted to show the scope of his sexual misconduct during his globe-trotting career.’ They claimed that Dutoit assaulted them in Paris, Montreal and the United States over a period of 40 years, beginning in the late 1970s.

The conductor resigned as artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on 10 January – according to the AP, just hours after conductor and orchestra had been informed of these new allegations.

The ensemble later released a statement saying that ‘the protracted uncertainty and media reporting makes Mr Dutoit’s position with the Orchestra untenable.’

The woman accusing Dutoit of rape said that the incident took place in 1988. She says that they were staying in the same hotel when Dutoit called her and asked her to bring a tool which could fix his broken luggage. When she brought it to his room, he offered her a drink, which she declined, and then forced himself on her.

She said that she started crying, asked him to stop and told him she was married, but that it made no difference. When she said she was not on birth control, he pushed her out of his room and told her: ‘I’ll get some condoms and get you back.’

French soprano Anne-Sophie Schmidt said she was assaulted by Dutoit in 1995 and singing the principal role in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. She claimed the conductor offered her rides home and left messages on her answering machine, but began to humiliate her in front of the orchestra when she ignored his advances.

The assault took place on the day of a dress rehearsal, when she the conductor forced himself on her in an empty hallway. She said that after the opera’s run ended, Dutoit dropped her from forthcoming engagements.

Two of Schmidt’s friends told the AP that the soprano had told them about the incident, and that the conductor had harassed them too.

Mary Lou Basaraba told the AP that Dutoit assaulted her when she was working as a journalist in the winter of 1977/78. Basaraba said she was told that the conductor had specifically requested her for the interview, which was to be held at his apartment.

She said that within minutes of her arrival, Dutoit forced himself on her, but she pushed him away and left.

Canadian soprano Pauline Vaillancourt said that Dutoit tried to force himself on her in March 1981 after inviting her to dinner ‘to discuss work’ after a performance with the Montreal Symphony.

As he drove her home, she said, he pulled over the car and groped her, but she pushed him away and insisted he drive her home. She claims that Dutoit later told her that she should be more cooperative if she wanted to pursue her career.

Dutoit has issued a statement saying he was ‘appalled and sickened’ to be accused ‘of the heinous crime of rape.’

It continued: ‘I am shaken to the core by this bewildering and baseless charge. To this, I submit my categorical and complete denial.’

From Rhinegold Media & Events
Featured products