Initial fallout over The Metropolitan Opera’s (The Met) suspended music director James Levine’s alleged sexual misconduct is positively radioactive.
There is no shortage of discussion on the topic, you’ll find thousands of comments across social media threads and online classical music outlets. Passions run deep and a sizable portion of that outrage is directed toward The Met’s executive leadership.
At the time this article was written, The Met’s official Facebook page had nearly 600 comments to their post announcing the suspension of Levine pending their own investigation.
We are suspending our relationship with James Levine, pending an investigation, following multiple allegations of sexual…
More than a few commenters directed ire toward the institution’s executive leadership for what might be best characterized as turning a blind eye toward a conflux of rumors only to act once there were no other choices available.
For now, The Met’s investigation does not appear to include any component that will examine their internal processes to protect those who are vulnerable or examine whether any credible attempts to make the institution aware of alleged wrongdoings existed, but were suppressed.
On one hand, that approach could certainly snowball into a witch hunt; at the same time, rumors surrounding Levine’s alleged behavior have persisted for decades. All of which makes it a difficult 800-lbs gorilla to ignore.
On the other hand, there is a genuine opportunity for The Met, and by extension the entire field, by way of a broader investigation led by an truly independent third party.
Right now, The Met’s investigator was engaged by and reports to the organization’s executive leadership. The conflicts of interest are self-evident, and any outcomes may only address a portion of the underlying problems that threaten to do irreparable harm to the institution’s credibility.
Having said that, The Met is unique in that it recently set a precedent during it’s 2014 labor dispute by agreeing to an independent examination of the organization’s financial records by Eugene Keilin, a co-founder of KPS Capital Partners, LP who was formerly a General Partner of Lazard Freres & Co. and Chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York.
Keilin’s final report was instrumental in preventing what was otherwise shaping up to be a thermonuclear work stoppage. He went on to continue serving the institution’s stakeholders in an independent financial oversight capacity.
This should be more than enough of a precedent to follow similar action during this crisis. Moreover, there are no shortage well highly qualified professionals already working in Title IX compliance to assist in the investigation process and crafting subsequent recommendations.