In 2017 and 2018, 10 women came forward to accuse renowned Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit of sexual assault and harassment, with allegations dating back as far as 1985. A number of orchestras severed ties with him in the aftermath, but on Sunday, he led a concert in Paris, one that earned him “repeated ovations,” according to the Associated Press.
In December 2017, four women told the Associated Press Dutoit, now 82, “forcibly restrained them, groped them and kissed them without permission.” The following month, six more women came forward to accuse Dutoit of sexual assault, including one musician who accused Dutoit of rape.
The victims were all singers and musicians, and detailed incidents occurring in Paris and Montreal, as well as in multiple U.S. cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, New York. Dutoit, who denies the accusers has not been charged on any allegation, though a number of them happened beyond the jurisdiction’s statute of limitations.
Dutoit has not played on a major world stage in some time, but on Sunday, the Philharmonie de Paris invited him to lead a concert after their lead conductor fell ill. This happened despite the fact that the majority of the orchestra’s musicians voted against Dutoit’s return. Apparently, concertgoers were not distressed:
Michelle Jolivet shrugged off accusations against Dutoit as probably “fake news,” then added, “I hope it’s fake.” Her husband Michel said, “It’s up to justice to decide. … If he’s not convicted, let him live his life.”
The AP points out that “[t]heir comments reflected the muted response in France to the #MeToo movement,” but even in the United States, where the MeToo moment first found footing, men accused of sexual assault have been slowly trying to leech their way back into public view. Louis CK, for instance, has been booking sets, albeit in his new identity as a 90-year-old radio shock jock. Bill O’Reilly just published another book. Charlie Rose is certainly trying.
Anyway, Dutoit will soon take a new conductor gig in Russia, now becoming a world haven for unrepentant men accused of sexual assault.