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New York’s Juilliard school rocked by sexual misconduct claims

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New York's prestigious Juilliard performing arts school has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct./AFP
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Dec 21, 2022 - 12:22 PM

NEW YORK — New York’s prestigious Juilliard performing arts school, whose alumni include actor Adam Driver and musician Jon Batiste, has placed a professor of music composition on leave following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Robert Beaser, 68, was put on leave last Friday, the school’s vice president of public affairs, Rosalie Contreras, told AFP Tuesday.

The move came the same day some 500 musicians and classical music leaders signed an open letter calling for action over his alleged “decades-long abuse of women and power.”

Sexual misconduct allegations against Beaser, who has been a member of the Juilliard faculty since 1993, were published in the German-based classical music magazine VAN on December 12.

The allegations range from repeated sexual advances to sexual relationships with students between the late 1990s and 2000s.

The report cites a former student who described one instance “in which Beaser offered her a promising career opportunity before attempting to obtain sexual favors in return.”

“What will you do for me?” she said Beaser asked.

Contreras said that Juilliard had launched independent investigations into Beaser in the late 1990s and again in 2017-18.

“Allegations that were previously reported to The Juilliard School were handled at the time, based on the information that was provided,” she said.

She said that an investigation into the new allegations detailed in VAN magazine has been opened.

“Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment have no place in our school community. We take all such allegations extremely seriously,” said Contreras.

Juilliard, based in Manhattan, is widely considered to be one of the most illustrious drama, music and dance schools in the world.

Notable alumni include Robin Williams, Barry Manilow, Jessica Chastain and Yo-Yo Ma.

Juilliard’s provost, Adam Meyer, told faculty members in a letter Friday that “in light of the ongoing investigation, and following discussions with Bob earlier this afternoon, we want to notify you that Bob will step away from his teaching duties and other faculty responsibilities while the investigation is being conducted.”

He added that the investigation would be conducted “in a confidential manner.”

“We want to assure you that our processes and procedures provide for fair and impartial treatment of all involved, and we are committed to our work to resolve this matter,” he wrote.

Beaser, who chaired the composition department from 1994 to 2018, told The Washington Post on Sunday that he was “more than willing to participate in Juilliard’s outside investigation in order to protect and defend my reputation.”

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