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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceMusical Miscellany(Moderators: JP, BGuttman) James Levine, students, festivals
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robcat2075

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« on: Dec 07, 2017, 09:41AM »

In addition to the problem of harassment in music schools, it's starting to look like these festival orchestras made up of high-achieving young players taught by high-ranking musicians are basically hunting grounds for horny faculty and staff

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I am a former member (male, violinist) of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. I was playing concertmaster for one of the concerts at Verbier, and James Levine asked me to come to the conductor’s room to discuss bowings, etc. after a rehearsal. At the end of this short conversation, he invited me to his accommodations later that evening for a drink. (This was in the presence of his brother Tom, who usually accompanied the Maestro everywhere.) Upon arriving, however, I was asked to come to his room. Aware of the rumors, I declined and politely said that I had to go to a chamber music rehearsal. I later mentioned this to Martin Engstroem, who brushed it aside and said “That’s just Jimmy being Jimmy.” Anyhow, the entire incident made me very uncomfortable, and Levine pretty much ignored me for the remainder of his time at Verbier. I am aware of no precautions that were taken by Martin Engstroem or anyone at the Verbier Festival to safeguard orchestra members.

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I am a Verbier alumnus, and this statement [by the Verbier Festival, denying any problems] is rich with hypocrisy and untruth, made by someone who publicly dated a fellow Verbier student. Not only did the Festival not warn us of the dangers of sexual interactions with conductors, coaches or staff, they fully engaged in these behaviors themselves and set up frequent extravagant parties in Verbier and on world tour where musicians would find themselves in compromising situations with conductors, coaches and staff. Being invited out personally by Martin Engstroem to meet Levine at a hotel for drinks was considered an honor; I know, it happened to me too. Many friends got themselves in difficult situations with mentors, and even now, so many years later, it has had a chilling effect on many careers. Verbier has a responsibility to come clean about past mistakes, and provide a safe learning environment for future musicians. As far as follow-up on complaints, I was groped by a conductor at Verbier and called the personnel manager. Her response: she gave me his personal cell phone number.

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The case described in the link below about Munich’s University of Music boggles the imagination. A married composition professor with children was known for liaisons with students. He finally faced rape charges after taking a student to a sex club and allegedly blackmailing her into having sex with multiple partners. This is the same conservatory where Siegried Mauser was convicted of sexually assaulting two colleagues. I believe Mauser is currently facing new charges that are even more serious.

On the positive side, I think that at least in Germany, there is some movement toward creating more professional standards for professors, though I’m not certain how widespread these reforms are, or how successful.

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/muenchen-wieder-gravierende-vorwuerfe-gegen-musik-professor-1.3075233

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“Here’s an article that puts a little bit more focus where it should be: on the victims. Not on the downfall of a great man (banal at this point). Not on the hand-wringing and institutional rot of the Met management and board. Not on the self-indulgent laments of fans torn about how to view his legacy.

Levine was a Dream Crusher. He told talented and hopeful young men that submitting to his sexual needs was part of their musical development. Ponder a moment how messed up that is. When bassist Chris Brown rebuffed him after a first disturbing encounter at Meadow Brook, Levine instantly cut him off and withdrew mentorship. The specifics are chilling, especially considering the age of the victims, their vulnerability, and the insular educational context. Levine’s talent and sway only deepened the damage. His artistry was an exacerbating factor, not the extenuating circumstance that so many take it for.”
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 07, 2017, 02:39PM »

A handful of problems doesn't make every extra curricular activity a hunting ground, Rob.

Expose the predators, aye... but let's not paint every organization with the same brush.
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 07, 2017, 02:56PM »

On a related note, when I was in jr high school and high school I studied off an on with a (still) highly regarded trombone teacher.

At one point in my freshman year he was no longer teaching at my school. The official line? I was told that he had been spying on our program and was telling other school bands what we would be playing at contests. As ludicrous as that sounds now, it seemed reasonable at the time.

I continued to study with him on weekends at another school. It wasn't until years later that the truth came out. He had been let go because he was making sexual advances on his male students (all under age). It is common knowledge that he had a reputation for this sort of thing at several schools in the area. I am very thankful that he never made advances on me.

The teacher's proclivities and actions flew under the radar all that time and he bounced around from school to school for years.

Times have changed. That would never fly in today's atmosphere, thank goodness.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 07, 2017, 03:18PM »

On Knowing And Not Knowing About James Levine

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Wen I was 12 years old, James Levine began his tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. My father was a cellist there. This is not an essay about abuse—I never met James Levine. This is an essay about what happens when knowledge is warped by a cult of interpretive genius. It is about having had my understanding of music fundamentally structured by James Levine’s craft when I was the same age as the children he allegedly liked to abuse, and in the process having decided not to know what I knew...

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...When I was 12 years old and James Levine began his tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, my parents sat me down and told me that there were serious rumors swirling around him. They told me they had heard he had been inappropriate with young boys. At that time, I was often backstage at the BSO and Tanglewood, hanging out with friends who were also the children of BSO players, listening to rehearsals. They told me never to be alone in a room with James Levine. They told me to walk the other way if I saw him coming.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 07, 2017, 03:42PM »

The teacher's proclivities and actions flew under the radar all that time and he bounced around from school to school for years.

I always wondered what the story was on the guy who preceded me as band director where I taught. By all accounts he was loved and adored by everyone but he appeared to have left just to go do the same job at an even smaller, more insignificant school.

One of the principals cautiously told me that he hadn't really quit, that they had "a problem" with him and told him to leave at the end of the year. Beyond that I never found out.


I also recall, when I was in high school, there were two teachers (and another I heard of since) that has a reputation for being too close, too friendly with the girls. One of them was the girls track team coach. It was indeed one of those "everyone knew it" but no one did anything about it situations.


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« Reply #5 on: Dec 07, 2017, 03:50PM »

My high school choir director was suddenly let go and moved out of the area, in the middle of the year.  We were never told why but it was shortly after he said some very inappropriate things in class which I won't repeat here.

This stuff has been going on forever.
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 07, 2017, 04:33PM »

It also appears that this is a sin for which you can never atone.

I won't defend the people who do this and continue to do it.

But we have to look at all sides.
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 07, 2017, 07:21PM »

There are very fine people on both sides?
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:25PM »

It's possible that someone does bad things and then changes.  I'm thinking of Al Franken.  For all I know, Moore may no longer be looking at young girls, but that needs to be proven.
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:35PM »

I feel like the Dems folded too early on Franken when he still had 50% approval in MN.

It's not like the Republicans are gong to feel like they have to dump Moore now.

I don't think anything Franken did compares with what Levine is described as doing with his mandatory blind-folded jackoff sessions. Yeesh.
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 07, 2017, 09:52PM »

Happens far too often. Here is a case from my part of the world.
http://theworthyadversary.com/4431-the-chorus-and-the-cycle
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 08, 2017, 08:12AM »

In today's news:

Former Canadian national ski coach Bertrand Charest, who was convicted of 37 charges related to the sexual assault of some young athletes, was sentenced this morning in Saint-Jérôme, Que., to 12 years in prison.

It's everywhere.
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 08, 2017, 09:38AM »

It's everywhere.
As troubling as the incidents of abuse are (and they are VERY troubling), I think the fact that there may have been people in positions of authority who were either willfully ignorant of what was going on or even actively sought to cover for the abusers is an order of magnitude more troubling.
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 08, 2017, 09:42AM »

As troubling as the incidents of abuse are (and they are VERY troubling), I think the fact that there may have been people in positions of authority who were either willfully ignorant of what was going on or even actively sought to cover for the abusers is an order of magnitude more troubling.


Example: USA Gymnastics...


Gymnastics Doctor Who Abused Patients Gets 60 Years for Child Pornography


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The case against Dr. Nassar emerged last year, after an Indianapolis Star investigation found that U.S.A. Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, had systematically failed to report gymnasts’ allegations of sexual abuse by coaches. Then, in September 2016, The Star published detailed accounts from two former gymnasts who said that, among other sexually abusive behavior, Dr. Nassar had penetrated them with his fingers, claiming it was a treatment for back pain.

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« Reply #14 on: Dec 09, 2017, 05:14PM »

A handful of problems doesn't make every extra curricular activity a hunting ground, Rob.

Expose the predators, aye... but let's not paint every organization with the same brush.

One of the defenses of Levine I'm reading on musicblogs is that everyone was doing it.

It was expected that college profs were banging the students.
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 09, 2017, 05:55PM »

That still doesn't make it right.  Nor does the argument that even Mozart and Liszt did it.

There are subtle little things: you try to pose the student in a position and fingers slide into apertures they don't belong.  I believe this was what Nasser was doing.  Behind piles of mats with the parents in the room.
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 09, 2017, 07:05PM »

Half a decade ago, there was a substitute band teacher in my school district who was caught have sexual relations with an underage girl (I believe she was one of his students) and was arrested and it was revealed that they exchanged explicit sexual photos via text messages.  Also I remember that same year he was arrested he subbed for OUR 6th grade band class Eeek! in our elementary.  Dark times we're living in. :/
 http://www.sourcenewspapers.com/news/substitute-band-teacher-accused-of-sex-with-student-exchanging-explicit/article_387fb3c1-c3a5-56a5-8c4d-c51f99b4793e.html
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 09, 2017, 07:51PM »

Same as it ever was probably. Except victims are speaking up.
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 10, 2017, 08:18AM »

When I was in college, and to be clear I'm talking about college students who are nearly all legally adults, I was surprised at how many students actively tried to "get with" their teachers, male or female, straight or not. It seemed scandalous, but in the opposite way that these "me too" stories seem scandalous. It is not really surprising to me that, especially in college level programs of any kind, there are predatory teachers. I also wouldn't be surprised if enthusiastic adult college students had changed their mind about what they had agreed on doing after the fact.

I think that if these allegations cropping up everywhere are proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be true, it's terrible and people should be punished for breaking the law. I do think that, especially for people bringing up stuff that supposedly happened decades ago, allegations should be just that. Guilty until proven innocent is not how the judicial system is supposed to work. These things should be investigated by ethics comitees and by legal means. It is not for the media or for joe shmoes to decide what happened.
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 10, 2017, 09:01AM »

I recall an architecture grad student who signed up for first year music theory explaining that when he was in first year, the 4th year students got the girls, when he was in 4th year, the grad students got the girls, and when he became a grad student, the profs got the girls.
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« Reply #20 on: Dec 10, 2017, 09:02AM »

I recall an architecture grad student who signed up for first year music theory explaining that when he was in first year, the 4th year students got the girls, when he was in 4th year, the grad students got the girls, and when he became a grad student, the profs got the girls.
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« Reply #21 on: Dec 10, 2017, 10:00AM »

I recall an architecture grad student who signed up for first year music theory explaining that when he was in first year, the 4th year students got the girls, when he was in 4th year, the grad students got the girls, and when he became a grad student, the profs got the girls.

This kind of preconceived/perpetuated culture is no good, but still. Are the people observing this system forcing others to do things they didn't want to do and participating in it, or is it just someone observing that women at the school aren't going out with them, but are gravitating towards whoever is in a senior position? It's easy to paint it as a horrific civil rights problem, but it's not a secret that people are often attracted to someone in a superior social position.

Again, this is talking about a college institution where nearly everyone at that institution is, for better or for worse, legally an adult.

Also, if the school doesn't have a code of ethics in place forbidding relationships between faculty and students then ...  Don't know

I guess the thing I struggle with is that there is a pretty large gray area between something that is legally OK and something that is absolutely unlawful and amoral. On the surface, the above quote seems barbaric, but it's already painted in a certain light by the phrasing.

"Women at XYZ college, according to a poll, are 50% more likely than men to date someone from a class ahead of them. Female grad students are known to often date their teachers." presents the same information with no bias. It seems to me that the real problems that are being brought up with the "me too" movement should be solved at the lowest level. Victims should report foul behavior, straight away. But before it even comes to that, their colleagues and their boss' colleagues should be vocal as well if they see foul behavior happening. Saying "hey, you can't say that at work. That's completely unprofessional " is a far better solution than these media scoops. And when the victim does have to report it, it's not just some allegation. They would have ten people of both genders who could say, "oh yeah, we've all seen this kind of behavior". In other words, shame on all the employees at some of these places where they see the boss touching their coworker, or saying obscene things, and they don't do anything about it or speak up. The victim shouldn't even have to file a complaint.

Contrast that with a college student who was asked out by their teacher, agreed, dated for a while, and then came to terms with the fact that they both might have had alterior motives for getting into a relationship, and THEN says "me too", or even worse, has someone else look at the situation and say "them too". I'm skeptical of everyone in these kinds of cases, and I have a feeling that this kind of situation is far and away more common than the really horrific stories the media reports. Is this a bad way to think?
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« Reply #22 on: Dec 10, 2017, 10:14AM »

I recall an architecture grad student who signed up for first year music theory explaining that when he was in first year, the 4th year students got the girls, when he was in 4th year, the grad students got the girls, and when he became a grad student, the profs got the girls.

Reminds me of the film A Beautiful Mind.
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« Reply #23 on: Dec 10, 2017, 11:35AM »

I think people are trying to conflate things that don't belong together.

If a college student and a faculty are willingly, genuinely romantically attracted to each other... OK, I can sort of see that, although it still seems a bad idea.


But when the teacher says to a student, "We need to jack off right now.  It's crucial for your musical development," and if the student says "no" he gets cut off from further legitimate instruction... the "they're both legal adults" defense isn't valid.

That is the James Levine situation. Even if you're "21" it's easy to get drawn into a bad situation when everyone important is telling you what a genius this guy is and how special it is to be able to study with him and... how do you know they're wrong when you aren't old enough to know that's not how it really works?

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« Reply #24 on: Dec 10, 2017, 12:01PM »

Yeah, that is messed up.

Is that the norm that gets overlaid onto all educators running these festivals? Or is the norm more of a gray area where some students are trying to get with teachers, and some teachers want to get with their students, and basically all involved parties are cruddy and flawed? That's what I'm saying.  These media stories are outrageous, but is it the norm?
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« Reply #25 on: Dec 10, 2017, 12:07PM »

Yeah, that is messed up.

Is that the norm that gets overlaid onto all educators running these festivals?

The norm? I would say there are enough cases that anyone running a festival or school should put a procedure in place so that it can't happen instead of just claiming "we haven't heard of it happening".
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« Reply #26 on: Dec 14, 2017, 11:17AM »

Conservatory prof...

Three schools sever ties with influential musician amid abuse allegations

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In multiple interviews, however, four former Boston Conservatory students described unwanted sexual advances by Hewitt — allegations that included bullying, lewd phone calls and text messages, propositions, and, in one incident, sexual assault.

The women, who ranged from 21 to 29 at the time of the alleged incidents, described a period dating to 2012 in which Hewitt used his considerable sway at the conservatory to run roughshod over young musicians just embarking on their careers.

The Globe confirmed their accounts with contemporaneous communications, medical records, and multiple interviews with friends, family, colleagues, and professors who learned of Hewitt’s behavior soon after it occurred.

The Globe has confirmed that at least two of the incidents shared by the women — including the alleged sexual assault — were reported to conservatory faculty soon after they occurred.

Long article includes rape-drug incident.
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« Reply #27 on: Dec 14, 2017, 05:20PM »

If the Met can out James Levine, then I think that the Cleveland Orchestra should be getting pretty nervous right about now.
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« Reply #28 on: Dec 15, 2017, 07:57AM »

More Levine...

The human cost of the James Levine climate

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Our contact was on the music staff at the Met as a young man in the 1980s. He was approached one day by the music director, who ‘stuck his hand down my pants’. Our contact indicated that he was not interested, and that was it.

No big deal, you might say. Everyone was above the age of consent. What followed, however, is indicative of the corrosive atmosphere at the Met and how careers could be made or broken at one man’s whim.

From the moment he declined the sexual proposition, our contact became invisible in the building. No-one wanted to work with him. If he asked why, he would be told he ‘was not good enough’. A clique around the music director was there to enforce his wishes.
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 15, 2017, 12:55PM »


Another interesting detail from that post... Norman Lebrecht says he was the one that told Ashok Pai to make a police report last year.

Some combination of a formal report and the police deciding to do what investigating they could is what got this all rolling.
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« Reply #30 on: Dec 21, 2017, 10:42AM »

Charles Dutoit now.  Multiple (adult) victims coming forward.

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I’m glad these women have come forward. I spent a summer as an intern at Tanglewood. Charles Dutoit manouvered me against a wall and put his hand on my breast. I fled his dressing room- I’d only gone in to drop off some documents.

I alerted the orchestra manager , who told me (too late…) that they usually advised women not to enter his dressing room unaccompanied, as there had been previous complaints.

So they knew what was going on… I have never felt angrier or less protected by an organisation. They continued to employ him, whilst knowing he harassed women.

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« Reply #31 on: Dec 21, 2017, 11:18AM »

Charles Dutoit now.  Multiple (adult) victims coming forward.
I'm afraid we're going to find that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. People that are perceived as being so talented, so important, so utterly irreplaceable that they can do what they will and the institutions for which they work will protect them.

Here's a thought:
Have these people worked their way into these positions and then been corrupted by the utter lack of accountability, or were they always scumbags and worked their way into these positions so they could commit these acts with impunity?
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« Reply #32 on: Dec 21, 2017, 11:42AM »

Charles Dutoit now.[/url]  Multiple (adult) victims coming forward.

Damn. I loved his recordings with Montreal.

S
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« Reply #33 on: Dec 21, 2017, 12:01PM »

What young woman's heart wouldn't go pitty-pat at the prospect of getting felt-up by this guy...

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« Reply #34 on: Dec 21, 2017, 12:12PM »

And this guy. At least the victims are now being heard and these a** hats can be stopped.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/12/13/three-schools-sever-ties-with-influential-conductor-musician-amid-abuse-allegations/hpvSvdLvaMwz8TwvKtlt2L/story.html#comments
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« Reply #35 on: Dec 21, 2017, 12:37PM »

All of these stories make me thankful to have been a shy kid who was terrified to even call a girl on the phone. Only up until I was about 25 or so :) So I doubt if anyone can accuse me of anything worse than telling bad jokes.
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« Reply #36 on: Dec 23, 2017, 08:22AM »

Not quite the same thing, but we should remember what Munich did to our own Abbie Conant.
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« Reply #37 on: Dec 23, 2017, 02:21PM »

Damn. I loved his recordings with Montreal.

S

Unfortunately, everyone in Montreal has heard stories (which sound like made up urban legends until the on-the-record reported accusations years later fit precisely the kind of behaviour those rumors were about...). I am very disappointed (although in no way surprised) that the Montreal Symphony is playing the "those specific accusations didn't happen in our backyard, so we'll just look the other way and pretend we don't know anything about it" card. Are there high-ranking executives in world-class organizations who have employed abusive leaders who still don't realize this course of action is no longer available them? Really?
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« Reply #38 on: Dec 23, 2017, 07:35PM »

Not quite the same thing, but we should remember what Munich did to our own Abbie Conant.

Incidentally, Abbie Conant, famous trombonist, is being sued by Massimo LaRosa, famous trombonist, over... groping allegations.
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« Reply #39 on: Dec 23, 2017, 08:16PM »

To be clear, LaRosa is suing Conant in defamation over allegations she made about him.

Will Messrs Levine and DuToit be called as character witnesses for Mr. LaRosa?
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« Reply #40 on: Dec 23, 2017, 08:57PM »

If I understood correctly, he is suing her for making a Facebook post about a fairly well-known incident.
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« Reply #41 on: Dec 23, 2017, 09:15PM »

Here's an article from four years ago covering the same incident. 

It's not clear to me why he is suing Conant now when that article put it out there years ago.  Don't know
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« Reply #42 on: Dec 23, 2017, 09:35PM »

It’s been a while since law school - 35 years - but IIRC, it is actionable to repeat a defamatory statement. And that was in the GWN where the law of defamation was generally regarded as more protective of an individual’s reputation.
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« Reply #43 on: Dec 24, 2017, 06:05AM »

Sure it's actionable. That still doesn't make it right.

It's ALSO a very lousy PR strategy. Suing the well-known and loved person who is basically the living symbol of the fight for gender equality in the trombone world over sexual assault accusations everybody knows about already. Way to boost your reputation...

Also, isn't it pretty reckless of him to throw rocks at this beehive given that the statutory limit is not reached yet?
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« Reply #44 on: Dec 24, 2017, 07:19AM »

Any artist with endorsements will be obligated to defend their reputation legally.

What would happen if a Yamaha artist appeared to be defamed ?
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« Reply #45 on: Dec 24, 2017, 08:00AM »

Any artist with endorsements will be obligated to defend their reputation legally.

I would think any brand that cares about protecting its moral reputation would choose not to knowingly endorse someone who has been accused of assaulting a student in the first place, really.
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« Reply #46 on: Dec 24, 2017, 08:12AM »

That would go for an orchestra or school also.  What makes this interesting is that it's a civil case between the accused and a messenger, not a victim.  It seems to me the statute of limitations and other factors would potentially apply very differently, but I don't know anything about the law.
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« Reply #47 on: Dec 24, 2017, 08:13AM »

Sure it's actionable. That still doesn't make it right.

It's ALSO a very lousy PR strategy. Suing the well-known and loved person who is basically the living symbol of the fight for gender equality in the trombone world over sexual assault accusations everybody knows about already. Way to boost your reputation...

Also, isn't it pretty reckless of him to throw rocks at this beehive given that the statutory limit is not reached yet?

There won’t be many trombonists in the jury.
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« Reply #48 on: Dec 24, 2017, 08:42AM »

There won’t be many trombonists in the jury.
As I said, lousy PR strategy. For the legal side, I don't know. But whether he wins in court or not, how does that help his reputation? Now not only will he still be known to have been accused of assault on a student (like that's gonna go away because he sued Abbie Conant? If anything it'll just make people talk about it more!), but he'll be known as a guy who launches petty lawsuits to gag activists. I just don't see how there's a win for him in this no matter the outcome.

That would go for an orchestra or school also.  What makes this interesting is that it's a civil case between the accused and a messenger, not a victim. 

True, it'll be interesting to see what happens with this, and I must say, very interesting timing, with all these accusations surfacing these days.

It seems to me the statute of limitations and other factors would potentially apply very differently, but I don't know anything about the law.

I mentioned the statute of limitations not because it is relevant to that lawsuit, but because he is still exposed to criminal prosecution. What if a victim who until now had decided not to file a complaint changes their mind because of that lawsuit? Seems like a very big risk to take just to make a point.
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« Reply #49 on: Dec 24, 2017, 09:04AM »


According to the article, Conant never named him. It seems foolish to say he's the unnamed person.



Quote
Specifically, [the lawsuit] said, Allen "falsely alleged that [La Rosa], who is married, had committed and was criminally culpable for multiple sexual assaults on numerous college campuses [where La Rosa] had been invited to as a guest instructor.''

Quote
The suit said La Rosa "has never been criminally charged with, or even criminally investigated for, any such criminal behavior or other crimes of moral turpitude.''

Is that a non-denial denial?















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« Reply #50 on: Dec 24, 2017, 09:53AM »

See, why would he be "known to have assaulted" a student if it actually isn't known that he did that? Seems like that would be why he'd press charges for defamation of character. He's not convicted or charged with anything, but people keep bringing it up on social media. If Abbie didn't mention his name in her post, however, it seems like a hell of a dumb move to sue her.
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« Reply #51 on: Dec 24, 2017, 10:15AM »

Any artist with endorsements will be obligated to defend their reputation legally.

What would happen if a Yamaha artist appeared to be defamed ?

My understanding is that a "Yamaha Artist" doesn't actually make any money from being one.  It's more about the mutual glow of being associated with each other. Right?
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« Reply #52 on: Dec 24, 2017, 10:59AM »

See, why would he be "known to have assaulted" a student if it actually isn't known that he did that? Seems like that would be why he'd press charges for defamation of character. He's not convicted or charged with anything, but people keep bringing it up on social media. If Abbie didn't mention his name in her post, however, it seems like a hell of a dumb move to sue her.

Well there was a university police case opened, and if I remember well he was pushed out of or resigned his seat on the ITA Board because of it back then (I can't find the article or post anymore where I had read that years ago though). The story was also mentioned in news articles, and the one known victim interviewed about it. I thought it was pretty much common knowledge, maybe it isn't as widely known as I thought and he's trying to avoid it becoming widely known. I still think suing people is a strange move if your goal is to avoid people talking about it, especially years after it sarted (Abbie Conant's husband was already talking about it publically years ago, why the suit now and not then?). Denying rumors usually only fuels them. So I don't see what outcomes constitutes a win for him here in terms of PR/reputation. Of course there's always the money if he wins the suit.
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« Reply #53 on: Dec 24, 2017, 11:21AM »

That would go for an orchestra or school also.  What makes this interesting is that it's a civil case between the accused and a messenger, not a victim.  It seems to me the statute of limitations and other factors would potentially apply very differently, but I don't know anything about the law.

What fundamentally changes is the onus and burden of proof. LaRosa has to prove that it is more likely than not that the statements damaged his reputation (maybe just that the statements were capable of damaging his reputation). He doesn’t have to disprove the statements themselves. Conant might have to show that the statements were true or alternatively some sort of privilege attaches to them, for example, a warning to students. Depending on what she said, if a reasonable person knew she was talking about him, it might not be all that important that she didn’t identify him by name.

Still, your point is a good one MB. Why open this Pandora’s Box?

I’m sure the lawyers will get most of the money.

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« Reply #54 on: Dec 24, 2017, 11:27AM »

"Truth is an absolute defense against libel" they say.

You can't win a libel suit on the basis of damaging true statements, can you?  Don't know
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« Reply #55 on: Dec 24, 2017, 11:36AM »

Truth is a defence, yes. But who has to prove that (onus of proof)?* No charges, let alone a conviction. Will Conant have to investigate these specific circumstances and get the complainant to cooperate (first question on cross: is it correct that police investigated and no charges were ever laid?), keeping in mind that the rumours of other incidents are likely inadmissible?

My view only of course. There are other law types on this forum who may have other opinions.


* Answer: Conant.
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« Reply #56 on: Dec 24, 2017, 12:10PM »

Can I warn everyone that this is a public place and many pro players lurk here. Lawsuits could be brought and gossip is rarely a nice thing.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #57 on: Dec 24, 2017, 01:12PM »

Innocent until proven guilty. Is that a thing any longer?
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« Reply #58 on: Dec 24, 2017, 01:18PM »

In a criminal trial it stands. The Trombone Forum is not a courtroom.
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« Reply #59 on: Dec 24, 2017, 01:29PM »

Innocent until proven guilty. Is that a thing any longer?

Guilt/innocence not really the issue in a civil case.
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« Reply #60 on: Dec 24, 2017, 02:19PM »

My problem with what's happening now is that an accusation of sexual misconduct on a man is a scarlet letter that can never be erased.  The mark of Cain.  Even if proven to be untrue.  And you can never be considered to have changed, regardless of how blame-free you are after the incident.  This isn't fair (goes for Roy Moore, too).

Remember, a single accusation could be someone with an ax to grind against the accusee.  I would expect more than one accuser to be an indication that a particular person is a sexual predator.

I should point out that Massimo LaRosa is a member of the Forum.  I believe Abby Conant's close friend is also a member (I don't think she is).
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« Reply #61 on: Dec 24, 2017, 02:38PM »

Chris,

Well then, a Merry Christmas to you, and yours, Ralph Sauer.
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« Reply #62 on: Dec 24, 2017, 03:13PM »

“My problem with what's happening now is that an accusation of sexual misconduct on a man is a scarlet letter that can never be erased.”

I don’t know if we’ve come that far yet. Trump is still president after all.

And Bonesmarsh: What the ...? Hittin’ the hard stuff a little early are we?
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« Reply #63 on: Dec 24, 2017, 03:15PM »

One prominent trombone player is suing another prominent trombone player... that is going to get talked about among trombone players.

Here is a primer on online defamation



I predict this will not go to trial. It will get settled for a lesser amount or dropped in exchange for some public recantation.
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« Reply #64 on: Dec 24, 2017, 03:17PM »

My problem with what's happening now is that an accusation of sexual misconduct on a man is a scarlet letter that can never be erased.  The mark of Cain.  Even if proven to be untrue.  And you can never be considered to have changed, regardless of how blame-free you are after the incident.  This isn't fair (goes for Roy Moore, too).

Remember, a single accusation could be someone with an ax to grind against the accusee.

I totally agree. Most of the recent fingerpointing looks very like professional or political assassination. The accusations leave a bad taint and often can't realistically be challenged or defended against.

It's disappointing that some posters here can't or don't differentiate between Massimo la Rosa having been accused of groping someone, and him actually having done so. The former might be common knowledge (although it was new to me) but the latter is absolutely not established as a matter of factual record.

On a personal note, I took part in several youth orchestras and bands throughout my school and college years. Total number of fellow musicians must be several thousand. Not only did no one ever molest me or try to, but I never even heard any gossip about anything like that happening to anyone. There were, however, plenty of examples of under-skilled female musicians - how should I put it? - climbing the greasy pole. So I call BS on this epidemic of sexual abuse all over the music world. The stories are completely irreconcilable with my extensive personal experience.
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« Reply #65 on: Dec 24, 2017, 03:19PM »

My last comment on this: English and American defamation law is quite different. English law protects His Lordship’s reputation. American law protects the rabble rouser’s free speech.

Merry Christmas everyone.
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« Reply #66 on: Dec 24, 2017, 05:23PM »


On a personal note, I took part in several youth orchestras and bands throughout my school and college years. Total number of fellow musicians must be several thousand. Not only did no one ever molest me or try to, but I never even heard any gossip about anything like that happening to anyone. There were, however, plenty of examples of under-skilled female musicians - how should I put it? - climbing the greasy pole. So I call BS on this epidemic of sexual abuse all over the music world. The stories are completely irreconcilable with my extensive personal experience.

This is also a gross comment. Just more he said she said.

I agree with Bruce, and that's the point I was trying to make -- sure, side with the victim, but only so much as to make a fair and just investigation of their case. Don't just assume guilt.
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« Reply #67 on: Dec 24, 2017, 05:31PM »

Innocent until proven guilty. Is that a thing any longer?
In a criminal trial it stands. The Trombone Forum is not a courtroom.

Exactly. Presumption of innocence is a judicial concept,and it only means the state can't give you a sentence until you've been given a fair trial and you have been proven guilty within that trial.

It applies in no way to public opinion, and doesn't protect you from being fired or asked to resign. An employer is well within its right to fire you long before you've been proven guilty of anything, as they are obligated to protect their company/brand/organization.

The judicial system, in particular with the Anglo-Saxon concept of proof beyond reasonable doubt, has proven highly ineffective at dealing with sexual abuse cases. Most sexual abuses are not committed by a random bad dude at knife point in a dark alley. Most are in grey areas where proving the absence of consent beyond reasonable doubt is extremely difficult. The victims know that, and they know the stigma they might face whether their abuser is found guilty or not, and they know how being "the ***** who ruined beloved star guy X" is not particularly good for their potential careers (especially, mind you, in a highly specialized field that is still very much a boys' club, such as  orchestral brass playing). They know how much energy and time it takes, and they know spending that amount of time or energy reliving their abuse is not necessarily super helpful in their process to move on from what happened to them, quite the contrary. Statistically, there are way, way, way more victims who get abused and don't report and/or whose accusation doesn't lead to charges and/or whose abuser is found not guilty despite having done it than there are false accusations.

So yeah, I choose to believe victims even when I don't know them and have never met them. If anything, because it honors the suffering of those several victims I do know and am friends with (while I don't personally know a single man who got got falsely accused).

And those saying accusations ruin the men's lives and put a permanent taint on their careers... Jeez. You can literally abuse kids for decades and still get within a percentage point of getting elected to the US Senate. Hell, you can claim to frequently commit sexual assault and be elected freaking president. You can get barred from teaching to certain students or at certain universities or schools or have restraining orders against you because of sexual misconduct and still be a principal player or conductor in a major symphony and have a solo career and earn 6 or 7 figure income. Maybe it would be healthy to check our privilege once in a while...
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« Reply #68 on: Dec 24, 2017, 05:32PM »

The stories are completely irreconcilable with my extensive personal experience.

The stories may not correspond with your experience, but they're hardly irreconcilable with it.
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« Reply #69 on: Dec 24, 2017, 10:40PM »

On a personal note, I took part in several youth orchestras and bands throughout my school and college years. Total number of fellow musicians must be several thousand. Not only did no one ever molest me or try to, but I never even heard any gossip about anything like that happening to anyone.

Fortunate you!

I can tell you that when I was in college I heard not just gossip but first-hand accounts from female music students of teachers with too many hands. Lots of "posture" and "breathing" checks that the male students and the less-attractive female students didn't seem to need.

Another classmate of mine was very excited to get accepted to a graduate-level conducting program but after a few more contacts with the teacher he suspected there would be more than conducting he had to do for this degree and gave it up.

Some institutions do a great job of making sure that these situations don't happen.  Others just presume that talented artists are always responsible adults. Clearly a mistake.
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« Reply #70 on: Dec 25, 2017, 03:17AM »

The stories may not correspond with your experience, but they're hardly irreconcilable with it.

Yes, irreconcilable. If it's true that sexual misbehaviour is so common in the music world, then I would expect to have seen some representation of that in my experience, which contains an ample sample size of musicians. Of course it's possible that all the musicians and teachers I've crossed paths with had no such incidents, but extremely unlikely given the claimed prevalence.

Still on a personal note, why hasn't anyone ever groped me? Am I repulsive? Oh, the trauma to my self-esteem from never having been the object of anyone's ill-considered lust! But seriously, there seems to be fewer women and male homosexuals among brass players compared to woodwinds and strings. Perhaps that's why. Or maybe it's something in my demeanour. I have absolutely nothing against anyone expressing sexual interest in me, however gauchely: it's a natural part of life and I'm free to accept or reject.

Were someone to make a genuine casting couch offer to me, again I'd be free to accept or reject. If the James Levine stories are true, yeah maybe I'd miss out on understudying for him - big deal. If I had a burning ambition to be an accomplished conductor, a sulking, horny James Levine would be a very minor obstacle. I'd make it my business to succeed with or without his help. But that self confidence comes from having put the work in to achieve a certain standard. I can understand how a younger, student musician might feel boxed into a corner, having not yet learned that musical accomplishment isn't within the gift of a patron, however powerful: it comes from you.

To end on a positive, that's why I remember very fondly the tutors I had who were encouraging and constructive and helped me to improve, not for any particular gain to themselves but because they gave a damn about me as a student and gave a damn about music.
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« Reply #71 on: Dec 25, 2017, 04:23AM »

Yes, irreconcilable. If it's true that sexual misbehaviour is so common in the music world

Not so much in the music world specifically as in the world in general I would say. The music world is not an exception, one way or the other.
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« Reply #72 on: Dec 25, 2017, 10:35AM »

But seriously, there seems to be fewer women and male homosexuals among brass players compared to woodwinds and strings. Perhaps that's why. Or maybe it's something in my demeanour.

If only those women and gays had just been straight men, all these problems would go away!
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« Reply #73 on: Dec 25, 2017, 11:51AM »

attitudes like yours hurt people.

Yes, irreconcilable. If it's true that sexual misbehaviour is so common in the music world, then I would expect to have seen some representation of that in my experience, which contains an ample sample size of musicians. Of course it's possible that all the musicians and teachers I've crossed paths with had no such incidents, but extremely unlikely given the claimed prevalence.

Still on a personal note, why hasn't anyone ever groped me? Am I repulsive? Oh, the trauma to my self-esteem from never having been the object of anyone's ill-considered lust! But seriously, there seems to be fewer women and male homosexuals among brass players compared to woodwinds and strings. Perhaps that's why. Or maybe it's something in my demeanour. I have absolutely nothing against anyone expressing sexual interest in me, however gauchely: it's a natural part of life and I'm free to accept or reject.

Were someone to make a genuine casting couch offer to me, again I'd be free to accept or reject. If the James Levine stories are true, yeah maybe I'd miss out on understudying for him - big deal. If I had a burning ambition to be an accomplished conductor, a sulking, horny James Levine would be a very minor obstacle. I'd make it my business to succeed with or without his help. But that self confidence comes from having put the work in to achieve a certain standard. I can understand how a younger, student musician might feel boxed into a corner, having not yet learned that musical accomplishment isn't within the gift of a patron, however powerful: it comes from you.

To end on a positive, that's why I remember very fondly the tutors I had who were encouraging and constructive and helped me to improve, not for any particular gain to themselves but because they gave a damn about me as a student and gave a damn about music.
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sonicsilver
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« Reply #74 on: Dec 25, 2017, 12:26PM »

attitudes like yours hurt people.

How's that, snowflake? Malevolent telekinesis?
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sonicsilver
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« Reply #75 on: Dec 25, 2017, 12:28PM »

If only those women and gays had just been straight men, all these problems would go away!

You've not seen Some Like It Hot then?
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growlerbox
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« Reply #76 on: Dec 25, 2017, 01:54PM »

Yes, irreconcilable. If it's true that sexual misbehaviour is so common in the music world, then I would expect to have seen some representation of that in my experience, which contains an ample sample size of musicians. Of course it's possible that all the musicians and teachers I've crossed paths with had no such incidents, but extremely unlikely given the claimed prevalence.

Still on a personal note, why hasn't anyone ever groped me? Am I repulsive? Oh, the trauma to my self-esteem from never having been the object of anyone's ill-considered lust! But seriously, there seems to be fewer women and male homosexuals among brass players compared to woodwinds and strings. Perhaps that's why. Or maybe it's something in my demeanour. I have absolutely nothing against anyone expressing sexual interest in me, however gauchely: it's a natural part of life and I'm free to accept or reject.

Were someone to make a genuine casting couch offer to me, again I'd be free to accept or reject. If the James Levine stories are true, yeah maybe I'd miss out on understudying for him - big deal. If I had a burning ambition to be an accomplished conductor, a sulking, horny James Levine would be a very minor obstacle. I'd make it my business to succeed with or without his help. But that self confidence comes from having put the work in to achieve a certain standard. I can understand how a younger, student musician might feel boxed into a corner, having not yet learned that musical accomplishment isn't within the gift of a patron, however powerful: it comes from you.

To end on a positive, that's why I remember very fondly the tutors I had who were encouraging and constructive and helped me to improve, not for any particular gain to themselves but because they gave a damn about me as a student and gave a damn about music.

OK, so experiences that don't comport precisely with yours don't exist?  Now who's the snowflake?

I agree overall with the importance, perhaps the primacy, of personal responsibility, but achieving this is a process which these kids are often just beginning to undertake.  While they can perhaps be faulted for naivete and even delicacy resulting from a who-knows-what cocktail of overprotective parenting/schooling and predisposition, the kind of predatory behaviour on the part of conductors and mentors being reported here cannot legitimately be described as the mere expression of sexual interest, even assuming that such expressions could be considered appropriate under certain circumstances (and this is by no means a given).

Perhaps it is indeed your demeanour that protected you from both the advances of your tutors and the confidences of your less self-assured peers, and perhaps you feel it also somehow excuses you for sliding from a healthy skepticism into paltry cynicism.
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« Reply #77 on: Dec 25, 2017, 02:00PM »

you come across as lacking empathy, and being very dissmissive of people who have been hurt. sexism and harrasment are real, and invalidating those feelings and truths is wrong. it's a worse world when we are encouraged to be "tough guys" and bury feelings.


How's that, snowflake? Malevolent telekinesis?
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« Reply #78 on: Dec 25, 2017, 02:12PM »

You've not seen Some Like It Hot then?

Maybe you don't quite understand.  All girl bands were formed because men generally refused to give them significant positions.  The humor of the film is that two guys hiding out from the Mafia dress as women and join the band.  They aren't being predatory -- they are trying to hide.  It would be foolhardy for them to expose themselves as men.

The predatory behavior of men in power towards women (or men if they are homosexual) is something you really don't want to condone or encourage.  And it's been happening for a LONG time.
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« Reply #79 on: Dec 25, 2017, 05:38PM »

Earlier on in this post I shared my story of tales I heard about a private teacher of mine in jr high school and high school.

I stated that he never was inappropriate with me. So yes, I too could state that the stories I heard about this teacher are "completely irreconcilable with my extensive personal experience", but it doesn't make them any less true.

So I wouldn't even begin to dismiss the experiences of other students (the ones who were assaulted or propositioned).
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« Reply #80 on: Dec 25, 2017, 09:00PM »

Earlier on in this post I shared my story of tales I heard about a private teacher of mine in jr high school and high school.

I stated that he never was inappropriate with me. So yes, I too could state that the stories I heard about this teacher are "completely irreconcilable with my extensive personal experience", but it doesn't make them any less true.

So I wouldn't even begin to dismiss the experiences of other students (the ones who were assaulted or propositioned).

This really gets to the core of how predators can operate for so long with impunity. By singling out victims they can hide behind that doubt/deniability for years. It also highlights the fact that maintaining a safe environment is everyone's responsibility (in the case of elementary/middle/high schoolers, the responsibility of the adults).
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