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    Met says it has evidence James Levine abused or harassed 7 people

    James Levine in 2009, when he was the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director.
    Globe photo/file
    James Levine in 2009, when he was the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director.

    NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.

    The Met fired Levine as its music director emeritus on March 12, citing evidence of misconduct.

    Levine sued the Met three days later for breach of contract and defamation.

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    Levine, who turns 75 next month, was the Met’s music director and/or artistic director from 1976 to 2016 before the shift to an emeritus position, and was also music director for the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011.

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    In its court filing, the Met claimed it learned during its investigation of improper conduct by Levine from 1975 to 2000.

    The Met described the individuals as including a musician, an opera singer, an artist, two people who were 16 years old, and a member of its Young Artists Program.

    The Met said it found evidence of conduct that included discussion of pornography, groping, kissing and mutual masturbation.

    Levine’s lawyers called them ‘‘only vague and unsubstantiated accusations of sexual misconduct supposedly engaged in by Levine decades ago, made by unidentified individuals, all in an attempt intentionally to smear Levine’s name, reputation, and legacy, while at the same time making it difficult for Levine to defend himself with any specificity against anonymous accusations.’’

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    ‘‘Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals,’’ his lawyers said. They added ‘‘the Met had no basis whatsoever for suspending and ultimately terminating Levine. The Met’s so-called ‘investigation’ of Levine’s conduct was nothing more than a pretext for the Met to suspend, fire and defame him.’’

    Prosecutors in Lake County, Ill., said in December they had investigated a 1980s sexual abuse allegation, but concluded that they could not bring charges, citing factors including the age of consent — 16 — at the time.