An internal investigation, launched by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra into allegations of sexual harassment by conductor Charles Dutoit, has now been completed. The investigation began after a swathe of allegations of sexual assault by the conductor emerged in December last year and January this year. Dutoit, who conducted last year’s Pelléas et Mélisande with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in June, was the OSM’s Principal Conductor from 1977 to 2002.

The independent investigator concluded: “For all intents and purposes and within the purview of my investigation, I dealt with two grievances of sexual harassment involving M. Charles Dutoit,” the investigator reported. “I met with and/or contacted the plaintiffs on several occasions. Though the procedure employed was rigorous and conformed to best practices in cases of internal inquiries into sexual harassment, the process did not yield sufficient information in relation to allegations of sexual harassment.”

“In light of the independent expert’s work, the two plaintiffs did not wish to follow up on their grievances and did not consider it opportune to provide formal declarations with respect to these allegations,” a statement from the OSM said. “As a result, the process of inquiry concluded in mid-October.”

“We sincerely empathize with the two plaintiffs who decided, for reasons entirely their own, not to follow up on their complaints in the context of this investigation,” the OSM’s Chief Executive Officer Madeleine Careau said. “We respect their personal choice, and with all advisement welcome the independent expert’s work. We must now acknowledge the results of this investigation and learn from its conclusions. To that end, we will adopt a new, stronger and more comprehensive workplace harassment policy. This new policy will be aligned with known best practices and be based on the principle of zero tolerance in matters of harassment, whatever form it takes.”

In March the Boston Symphony Orchestra revoked Dutoit’s title of 2016 Koussevitzsky Artist after an independent investigation found a former intern’s allegations of sexual misconduct by Dutoit during the 1997 Tanglewood season to be “credible”.

Just before Christmas last year, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra responded to the public allegations of sexual misconduct emerging overseas, saying “we will not be engaging Mr. Dutoit as a guest conductor in the future.”


Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine