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sexual misconduct
January 2, 2018

Peter Martins, who has led the New York City Ballet for more than 30 years, stepped down Monday night amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and physical and verbal abuse. "I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct," Martins, 71, wrote to the City Opera board, adding that the scandal had "exacted a painful toll on me and my family." He said he had "cooperated fully in the investigation," by an outside law firm, and understands "it will be completed shortly. I believe its findings would have vindicated me."

Charles Scharf, the chairman of City Ballet's board, thanked Martins "for his tremendous contributions to New York City Ballet as ballet master in chief for over three decades, leading the company to exceptional artistic heights and accomplishments," but added that "the board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him and we expect the independent investigation of those allegations to be completed soon."

One current and four former City Ballet dancers recently told The New York Times that Martins had physically and verbally abused them as far back as 1993, and 24 former dancers at the City Ballet or its School of American Ballet — where Martins was artistic director and faculty chairman — described a culture in which an untouchable Martins had bullied and body-shamed dancers and abused his power to have sex with select dancers. Martins took a leave of absence last month when the allegations surfaced, and board members were informed of his resignation in a conference call Monday evening, as well as his arrest Thursday in Westchester County on charges of driving while intoxicated, the Times reports.

Martins made his City Ballet debut in 1967, became a principal dancer in 1970, and look over leadership in 1983 upon the death of founder George Balanchine. Peter Weber

December 14, 2017

In November, two women — model Keri Claussen Khalighi and screenwriter Jenny Lumet — accused Def Jam founder and lifestyle entrepreneur Russell Simmons of sexual assault, prompting Simmons to "step aside" from his business empire. On Wednesday, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times recounted the stories of nine more women, four of whom accused Russell of raping them. They said they came forward now because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Simmons' denials about sexually assaulting Khalighi and Lumet.

Music producer Drew Dixon, singer Tina Baker, and music journalist Toni Sallie told The New York Times that Simmons raped them in the late 1980s and '90s, and female hip-hop artist Sherri Hines told the L.A. Times he raped her in 1983. Each of the women told friends or family about being raped contemporaneously, the newspapers confirmed. Christina Moore, comedian Amanda Seales, Lisa Kirk, actress Natashia Williams-Blach, and massage therapist Erin Beattie said that Simmons had sexually harassed or propositioned them, often by exposing his genitals.

In a statement to The New York Times, Simmons, 60, said he has "accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women," but "what I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done," and when it comes to the rape accusations, "I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual."

Dixon and Sallie left the music business, largely, they say, because of being harassed and assaulted by Simmons and professional gatekeepers like him. Dixon said she can't even listen to the hit music she helped create. "I gave up something that I loved to do," she told The New York Times. "I erased myself," and now "I want people to know why." You can read the detailed allegations at The New York Times and L.A. Times. Peter Weber

December 7, 2017

Former child star Corey Feldman has been telling everyone who will listen that he and dozens of other child actors were sexually abused by a ring of pedophiles in the 1980s, and in late October, one of those people he told was recently fired Today host Matt Lauer. When Lauer asked why he was talking to him and not the police, Feldman said that in 1993, he was interviewed in California by Santa Barbara detectives about his friend Michael Jackson (who he said never molested him), and "I sat there and I gave them the names. They're on record. They have all of this information." The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said it had no record of Feldman naming names, until Wednesday.

"Following the recent inquiries into the sheriff's office interview of Mr. Feldman in 1993, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office conducted an additional review for any stored items remaining from the Michael Jackson investigation," the department said. "In a container which included the original reports from the (Jackson) investigation, the sheriff's office located some detective working copies of audio recordings made during the investigation. A copy of Mr. Feldman's interview was located. The recording is being turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department."

After talking to Lauer, Feldman did name two names — telling Megyn Kelly that he was abused by former child talent manager and convicted sex offender Marty Weiss, and Mehmet Oz about former costar Cloyd Jon Grissom, a convicted child molester and fugitive. On the Dr. Oz show, Feldman called in a report to the LAPD, which took a statement and, on Nov. 9, dismissed the case because the statute of limitations had expired. "It's not clear whether Santa Barbara's belated discovery of a 24-year-old audio recording of detectives' interview of Feldman will change anything," USA Today notes, but it certainly adds heft to Feldman's allegations. Peter Weber

December 5, 2017

A panel discussion at a 20th anniversary screening of Wag the Dog at the Tribeca Institute on Monday night quickly became the latest flashpoint in the national reckoning over sexual misconduct by men in entertainment, media, and politics. Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, the panel moderator, fired the first shot, confronting panelist Dustin Hoffman about decades-old accusations of sexual misconduct, centering around a woman named Anna Graham Hunter's charge that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of a 1985 TV version of Death of a Salesman. The 30-minute conversation got tense at times, and awkward.

"This is something we're going to have to talk about because ... it's hanging in the air," Oliver told Hoffman. "It's hanging in the air?" Hoffman replied. "From a few things you've read you've made an incredible assumption about me." Oliver took particular issue with Hoffman's response to Graham Hunter's accusation. "'It's not reflective of who I am' — it's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off," Oliver said. "It is reflective of who you were. If you've given no evidence to show it didn't happen, there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say 'it wasn't me.'"

At various points, the other panelists — Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, director Barry Levinson — tried to move the conversation on, as did Oliver, but Hoffman returned to the topic. Oliver shook his head at some of Hoffman's explanations and said he got "no pleasure from this conversation," either. "The easy way is not to bring anything up," he said. "Unfortunately, that leaves me at home later at night hating myself. Why the f--k didn't I say something? No one stands up to powerful men." "Am I the powerful man?" Hoffman asked. That, at least, seems a clear-cut yes. Peter Weber

December 4, 2017

On Sunday, New York's Metropolitan Opera cancelled upcoming conducting engagements by James Levine and suspended its long relationship with the famed conductor after three men came forward and accused him of sexual abuse starting when they were 16 and 17. Met general manager Peter Gelb said the opera company had hired an outside law firm to investigate the allegations against Levine, 74. "While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now," Gelb told The New York Times, which reported two of the allegations. "This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected."

The two newly reported allegations date back to 1968, when Levine was on faculty at the Meadow Brook School of Music's summer program in Michigan. Two of the students, who were 17 at the time, told the Times similar stories about Levine, then 25, pressuring them into mutual masturbation. The third accuser, Ashok Pai, filed a police report in Lake Forest, Illinois, last year accusing Levine of sexually abusing him for years starting in 1986, when he was 16. Levine did not respond to the Times when asked for comment.

Rumors had followed Levine in the classical music world, and Gelb said the Met has looked into sex abuse accusations at least twice — first in 1979, when the executive director at the time, Anthony Bliss, dismissed allegations in an unsigned letter, telling the board of directors: "We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges." Gelb said the Met also did not take action after the Lake Forest Police contacted the board of directors in October 2016 with questions about Pai's abuse report and Levine denied the accusation. Levine stepped down as music director of the Met in April 2016, citing poor health. Peter Weber

November 13, 2017

In a press conference Monday with women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, 56-year-old Beverly Young-Nelson became the fifth woman to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual conduct. Young-Nelson said that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old.

Reading from a printed statement, Young-Nelson recounted how Moore was a frequent patron at the Alabama restaurant where she worked as a waitress, and said the then-district attorney offered to give her a ride home one night after work. Young-Nelson said that Moore then parked the car behind the restaurant and began to grope her, grabbing her neck as he tried to pull her head towards his groin.

Young-Nelson said that she fought back and that Moore eventually "gave up" and told her: "You're just a child and I am the district attorney of Etowah County. And if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you." Young-Nelson said she quit her waitress job the next day and has not seen Moore since.

At the press conference, Young-Nelson also showed her high school yearbook, which in December 1977, she said Moore signed with a fawning note: "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say 'Merry Christmas.' 1977 Love, Roy Moore D.A."

Allred said that her client wanted to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Moore's alleged assault. Last week, The Washington Post published allegations by four women that Moore had initiated relationships with them when they were teenagers and he in his early 30s. Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 13, 2017

In 1978, director Roman Polanski, then 43, accepted a deal to plead guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl who accused him of drugging and raping her in Los Angeles, but then fled to France when he learned that the judge was leaning toward rejecting the plea deal and order him to return to jail. In 2009, as Polanski was detained in Switzerland and fighting extradition to the U.S., where he remains a fugitive, producer Harvey Weinstein wrote an op-ed in Britain's The Independent urging "every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the U.S., where he could face life in jail."

"Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time," Weinstein wrote. (Polanski spent 42 days in a California state prison.) "I think the reason we can all be on Polanski's side over this is not to do with what happened in 1977. It's to do with the fact that the punishment for what happened so many years ago had already been decided." Weinstein name-dropped some other Hollywood notables, including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, who would probably rather be left out of this now that Weinstein has been accused of rape and serial harassment by numerous women. Luckily for them, The Independent has pulled the op-ed from the web.

Since Samantha Gailey pressed charges in 1977, four more women have publicly accused Polanski of sexually assaulting them when they were young girls — one came forward in 2010 and three more this year, most recently Marianne Barnard, who said Polanski molested her when she was 10 and she couldn't remain silent anymore now that "all these women are bravely coming forward" with accusations against Weinstein and others. Peter Weber

November 10, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that President Trump hopes Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore will "do the right thing and step aside" if the accusations from four women who say he pursued them when they were teens are true.

"Like most Americans, the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case one from many years ago — to destroy a person's life," Sanders said. In The Washington Post report, Moore was also accused by one of the women, Leigh Corfman, of initiating a sexual encounter with her when she was only 14 years old and he was 32 and working in a district attorney's office. The article was deeply sourced, with the reporters interviewing more than 30 people, and has been confirmed by CBS News and other outlets. Trump has previously tweeted his support of Moore, a former judge, calling him "a really great guy" in September. Catherine Garcia

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