Minnesota musician accuses New York conductor of sexual misconduct

A Minnesota musician is among those accusing a prominent New York conductor of sexual misconduct, the latest casualty of a months-long cultural reckoning with the impacts of sexual harassment and assault by men in powerful positions.

The allegations against longtime New York Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine span nearly three decades--from the 1960s to the 1980s--and include the account of a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra bassist and University of Minnesota Professor Chris Brown, first published in the New York Times Sunday. 

"Chances are he was probably being groomed by this man before anything happened," said psychotherapist John Bullough. "[Things like] attention, special favors, a long look."

It was the summer of 1968 and Brown had just finished his junior year of high school, where Levine was the conductor of the school's orchestra. There, Brown said Levine invited him into a dorm room and assaulted him, later refusing to make music with the teen when Brown said he would not continue the behavior.

It was a deeply personal story that Brown says he was moved to share as a part of the "national reckoning" surrounding the issue sexual misconduct.

He told the Times that the scars of the abuse lasted for years, wounds Bullough says can heal over time, especially by sharing stories of assault with those you trust and breaking through the shame that normally surrounds such admissions.

"I'm still trying to figure out why it's so incredibly emotional and sticks with you for your whole life," Brown told the Times. "It's shame, a lack of intimacy and sheltering yourself from other people."

For more resources on sexual violence visit the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault's website here.