James Levine 'not scheduled' to lead future concerts with the orchestra downtown

James Levine conducts during the Boston Symphony Orchestra's rehearsal in the shed at Tanglewood on Thursday afternoon. Thu July 6 2006

James Levine conducts during the Boston Symphony Orchestra's rehearsal in the shed at Tanglewood on Thursday afternoon. Thu July 6 2006

The alleged abuse by Levine, now 74 and director emeritus of the Metropolitan Opera in NY, began in 1985 while Levine was guest conductor at the Ravinia Festival near Chicago, the Post reported.

News of his suspension jolted the opera world, where Mr. Levine is considered one of the finest conductors ever, and raised questions about what was known by the Met and other institutions that employed him over the years.

The Met also says it's hiring a former US attorney to lead a "full and complete investigation".

One of the men, Ashok Pai, a Kenilworth native who now lives in New York City, claims he had a number encounters with Levine between 1986 when he was 16 and 1993, in a Lake Forest hotel room.

The announcement follows a New York Times report about a man who alleged Levine sexually abused him in IL when he was 16. Mr. Gelb said Mr. Levine had denied the accusation, and the Met had chose to await the outcome of the police investigation before taking action.

The now 48-year-old man reportedly told police in Lake Forest that Levine would masturbate naked in front of him and kiss his penis. Brown was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in MI.

Now the claims are being investigated, but Levine has not responded publicly. Levine, he said, also gave him financial gifts amounting to about $50,000. Details of the police report were first reported on Saturday on the New York Post's website.

Gelb told The Times that speculation about Levine had reached the Met administration's upper levels twice before, to his knowledge, first in 1979.

"Levine's tenure with the BSO, the Boston Symphony Orchestra management was never approached by anyone in connection with inappropriate behavior by James Levine", the statement said.

- Ashok Pai, living near the Ravinia Festival in IL where Levine was music director from 1973 to 1993, who reported to the Lake Forest, Ill., Police Department previous year that he was sexually abused by the conductor starting in 1986, when he was 16. "This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected".

Levine, who was named music director of the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, conducted more than 2,500 performances there. It was expected to be his last appearance at the Met for at least the rest of this year and possibly the foreseeable future.

Levine had been slated to conduct a high-profile new production of Puccini's "Tosca", starting New Year's Eve, and two more operas later in the season.

An author, Johanna Fiedler, also wrote about the Levine rumors in a 2001 book, "Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera", commenting that inside the company "the stories were dismissed as preposterous".

The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward with their allegations.

Mr. Gelb spent much of the weekend dealing with the fallout from the accusations - holding an emergency meeting of its executive committee by telephone on Sunday to discuss its decision to suspend Mr. Levine and working to find conductors to take over his canceled engagements.

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