Cleveland Orchestra Fires Concertmaster William Preucil for Sexual Misconduct

October 24, 2018, 10:37 PM · The Cleveland Orchestra announced Wednesday the firing of concertmaster William Preucil -- as well as principal trombonist Massimo La Rosa -- for sexual misconduct, following the release Tuesday of an independent investigation into the charges.

"The investigators found that Mr. Preucil and Mr. La Rosa engaged in sexual misconduct and sexually harassing behavior with multiple female students and colleagues over a period of years while employed by the Orchestra," said a written statement issued by the Cleveland Orchestra. "Moreover, the abusive conduct by both performers was made possible by their positions of power within the Orchestra and in the broader world of classical music."

William Preucil
Violinist William Preucil.

The full independent investigation report by Debevoise & Plimpton can be found by clicking here.

The report concludes that "based on interviews with students, musicians, and faculty, others with relevant information, and Preucil himself, as well as a review of available documentary evidence, the investigators conclude that Preucil engaged in sexual misconduct or sexually harassing behavior with at least 12 female musicians while he was employed by the Orchestra. Debevoise also received indirect reports that Preucil engaged in misconduct
with eight additional women."

The Cleveland Orchestra said that over the course of two months, investigators interviewed more than 70 people, including members of the Cleveland Orchestra staff, students and colleagues of Preucil and La Rosa, current and former orchestra management, members of the board, and Preucil and La Rosa themselves.

"Mr. Preucil’s and Mr. La Rosa’s conduct was inappropriate, appalling and inconsistent with the expectations we have for the members of our Orchestra, our staff and our board," said Richard K. Smucker, president of the board of the Musical Arts Association. "We believe The Cleveland Orchestra should be a model for respect and trust in the way we treat our musicians, our staff and everyone with whom we work."

"We are grateful to everyone who came forward to help with this investigation and intend to move forward as an orchestra community with a clear resolve to be more responsive and protective of our musicians, staff and anyone with whom our people interact," said André Gremillet, executive director of the Orchestra. "We want to thank the victims for having the courage to come forward, and we are truly sorry about the reprehensible behavior of the two members of The Cleveland Orchestra that caused them so much harm."

Following recommendations by the investigators to revise the orchestra's existing policies, and the orchestra's board approved a revised anti-harassment policy "that makes clear that the Orchestra expressly prohibits all forms and gradations of sexual misconduct and sexually harassing behavior. Clear consequences are outlined for anyone who violates the policy," according to the statement.

The Cleveland Orchestra's investigation was called in August, following the publication in late July of a Washington Post article that describes a 1998 incident involving violinist Zeneba Bowers and Preucil. The article focused on sexual harassment, misconduct and assault in the classical music world. It was not the first time such issues had been raised; allegations of misconduct by Preucil also were outlined more than a decade ago in a 2007 piece called 'Sour Notes' in the Cleveland Scene, which alleges both sexual misconduct and nepotism by Preucil.

Days after the publication of last summer's Washington Post article, Preucil was suspended from the Cleveland Orchestra, then resigned from his position as Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute a day later.

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Replies

October 25, 2018 at 01:28 PM · This might be a great time for teachers with private students to begin taping their lessons, so that students (and their parents) might playback and review their lessons after they return home. The technology is both simple and cheap, and potential liabilities that could be avoided would be well worth the investment. Get signed permission from parents and students to record, of course, but make sure that the purpose is clear: so that students can review the lesson when they get home. This would be akin to police body cameras, but with benefits...

October 25, 2018 at 02:51 PM · Allegations can come years later, and someone making a false allegation (and this is the only reason to pursue this) could always claim that a particular session was missing from the archive.

Though there is always the possibility that false allegations could be made, particularly if the standards for proof in a court of law were lessened, the large majority of allegations are true. Unless the student was recording every session, and keeping the offending recordings to use as proof, use of recordings could be nullified by saying the teacher destroyed their own recording of a particular session.

October 25, 2018 at 03:49 PM · I don't think this particular case should cause people to be frightened over being the target of false allegations. These incidents were well-known for years and then investigated thoroughly, and as it turns out, all evidence points to them being true. The bigger problem in this case is that for a very, very long time, nothing was done about them.

October 25, 2018 at 04:02 PM · O Yes, people did something about it. A collegue was fired and the new music school had windows for each classroom, so everybody could see what was going on in there.

October 25, 2018 at 05:08 PM · As a male I am concerned about these kinds of accusations because I don't really know the extent or content of what happened. Younger males might compliment a female by telling them they look nice in their dress or something similar. Who is the judge as to if this is a sexual innuendo? The female could claim she was harassed by unwanted sexual overtures when the male was simply complimenting her.

After recent events concerning several celebrities, I think some men are afraid to say anything to a woman for fear she will take it the wrong way and go reporting it somewhere to someone. In addition, there's the factor of agreed on relationships that go wrong. It might have been a consensual thing between two people. Later on, the woman can claim it wasn't consensual...even years later and really damage a man.

Granted I like to see an equal balance and a fair examination of the laws. I like to see justice done as I believe it was here, however I see the pendulum swinging too far the other way to the point that males will be paranoid to date or attempt to meet females. I work for a university with strict rules concerning this that seem to sometimes err on getting justice for the males. The females word is seldom questioned. Don't forget the story of Joseph and Potiphars wife. There are two sides to every story.

I can only guess at the nature of these "sexual offenses". Off hand comments tolerated are bad enough and should have been dealt with swiftly.

Can we loose our jobs for commenting someone looks nice?

I suspect this is much more than "hearsay" from a few women.Since the exact nature of the offenses is unknown it's hard to tell exactly what was going on.Slapping women on the posterior? Yes fire him right away. Bad indecent comments? Call him on it and make him accountable for that.

I'm sure there was a more resolute disclosure behind closed doors, but it leaves the rest of us hanging. Is this a he said /she said? It seems to largely be the case.

I'm not putting up for these guys. My main point here is equal justice to all concerned. This is probably a bad example to use as a case where there could be an unsure outcome. The evidence seems to point to this, keyword being "seems". Translation-Probably does. "Seems", "probably", "most likely" still aren't definitive conclusions.

I no longer date. If I were a young male though, I would be scared to death, even paranoid to do or say anything. All it takes is someone coming forward to condemn you. From that point forward you are guilty until proven innocent.

October 25, 2018 at 06:28 PM · Well, Timothy, read the investigation and its CONCLUSIONS, if you are wondering. The link is provided. So is the link to many stories about it. The exact nature of the offenses is not unknown, and no, after all of this careful review and deliberation, it is not appropriate to reduce this to "he said/ she said."

October 25, 2018 at 06:38 PM · Terrible situation.

October 25, 2018 at 06:48 PM · Both the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Orchestra leadership knew they had a problem with the concertmaster back in 2007. Firing him eleven years later should not dilute any civil or criminal suits being filed against the school or the orchestra. Preucil has been a radioactive bomb waiting to go off for over fifteen years. Both institutions had the ability to terminate him when the first victim was gagged and given full ride to the music school of her choice a decade ago. The point here is, the predator personality does not evolve for the better or change in a "close-call" scenario. He has disgraced his family, himself, the orchestra and the school. Sure, it happens but the wink and nod part lasted way too long.

October 25, 2018 at 07:23 PM · Not sure about the trombonist, but everyone knew about Preucil years ago.

October 25, 2018 at 07:49 PM · Timothy, on behalf of all women everywhere, I'm going to let you know not to worry- we'll all be just fine without your compliments on our personal appearance.

October 25, 2018 at 08:13 PM · It's about time! Many thanks to Ms. Bowers for her bravery and the WaPo for the investigative journalism that brought this out into the daylight. There will never be justice for the victims, but hopefully this will deter others that feel tempted to abuse their positions of power.

October 25, 2018 at 09:51 PM · One part of the article I read was about a female student coming to a lesson, and while she was getting her violin out and getting ready, Preucil had lain down on the floor and was looking up her skirt. When questioned by the student, his comment was "I just wanted to see what was up there." I would assume no one here thinks that he was simply trying to compliment the student, and it got misinterpreted.

October 26, 2018 at 01:22 AM · Regarding this being a warning to others abusing their positions of power, something tells me this is like an addiction, and once one gets the taste of it, getting shut down by an external agency is many times the only fix.

October 26, 2018 at 07:19 AM · Please, Timothy, read the investigation which, among other things, states that Preucil admitted to having sex with students during and after lessons, and that they were afterwards pressured into silence.

Posts like this seem to prove that women stepping forward gain nothing but being almost instantly accused of being lying or being oversensitive. Which is why it often takes so long for them to come forward. Many never finds the courage to so.

October 27, 2018 at 12:00 AM · Well if a man is scared to open his mouth for fear of his intentions being “misinterpreted”......that’s just fine! There is no basic right to opening your mouth and making personal comments about people (of any gender).

Here’s a hint: if you’re not sure if what you want to say or do could be taken the wrong way then Just. Don’t. Why is that seen as difficult or unreasonable?

October 27, 2018 at 02:20 PM · Separating the art from the artist is never easy. But I have never been able to bring myself to allow my child to listen to his Suzuki reference recordings, despite the excellent playing. I wonder how many other Suzuki parents have this conundrum. Interestingly, I don’t feel as icky about listening to old Cleveland Quartet recordings, maybe because his presence is diluted by the other great artists in the ensemble.

October 27, 2018 at 03:31 PM · Timothy wavers in his position, from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.....rather odd. This case is so obviously NOT one of 'he said, she said'.

As a classical musician of 40 years plus, I have overheard more than one restaurant conversation, where an indignant father had to threaten his daughter's 'famous' teacher to leave his daughter alone, in her protection...RCM Toronto, to be exact.

October 27, 2018 at 04:49 PM · Slightly off-topic, but related to the first post: I have recorded lessons both as a student and as a teacher. It can be very helpful to the student, IF s/he has the time to go back and listen to the recording. As a student, I felt like I got a LOT more from my lessons this way, and have even returned to the recordings years later, when revisiting works studied in the past.

As for the main point of the article, as in some other recent cases, it is gratifying to see this despicable behavior punished. One can only hope that this leads to such allegations being taken more seriously and investigated in a more timely way in the future.

Mention was also made in the 2007 Sour Notes article about allegations of nepotism against Preucil. Were those ever addressed and resolved?

October 27, 2018 at 05:14 PM · Well...as I guessed might happen, my post was misinterpreted. I don't know how this guy lasted a month with that behavior. I guess my main question is why did it go on for so long?

In this case I am convinced the man was certainly guilty. If this even came close to bodily contact and this is proven, then he should have been strung up a long time ago.

I have been personally privy to the same kinds of things that happen to men directed from women. I had one instance happen to ME personally by a married woman when I was younger. Luckily when I didn't respond she didn't take me to task or lie about me. I know of other men who weren't as lucky. The favors were used for leverage.

So what I'm saying here is it goes both ways and whenever a man's name comes up for accusations don't assume anything until you know all of the facts. I don't think it's out of bounds to look at the accusing woman's track record.

October 27, 2018 at 06:05 PM · Katarina B.

a careful reading of the report will not show Preucil admitting to “having sex” but rather “sexual misconduct” - this may be a distinction without significance to you, but not to all, even if one agrees with the outcome in this case.

I imagine Thanksgiving dinner conversation might be very awkward, if any of this is news to the family. “You do WHAT in your lessons? Is that before or after the scales and etudes?” And how would he have reacted to news that someone had behaved similarly with his violinist daughter?

As for not being able to let a kid listen to the Suzuki recordings, but being willing to listen to Cleveland Quartet recordings because of the other great artists present, I’ll just say that quite a few great artists have been rather less than great human beings. You may reasonably not wish to provide them with an economic benefit, you may reasonably wish to have nothing to do with them personally, but I do not see the value in punishing yourself for their mistakes. If you have a CQ recording where you enjoyed the rendition of the 1st violin part before you found out about this, nothing has changed - it’s not a demonstration of your bad taste that you were unable to discern the flawed human behind the performance.

October 27, 2018 at 06:32 PM · I remember a report from a missionary in Thailand having tried to tell his teacher she was wearing a nice dress, but having got the tone wrong and called her an unlucky tiger. If Julie's "all women everywhere" included his teacher, that mistake could have been a blessing in disguise!

But as regards the distastes of others on here, better be careful about which great composers and conductors you listen to, then, particularly those who conducted operas/oratorios or taught young women! Or players whose cadenza arrangements you play or listen to.

October 27, 2018 at 06:45 PM · Oh my God. A post on the exhaustively researched, well-documented, and decades-long predatory sexual behavior of Bill Preucil is absolutely not the place for random male commenters to posture about looking at the accusing woman's track record or make snarky comments on how to respond to historical misdeeds of other men. This kind of response is exactly why women are hesitant to come forward in the first place.

October 27, 2018 at 10:45 PM · About the Suzuki recordings, here is a nice alternative, until some new recordings are made (that will be a major undertaking):

Suzuki Evergreens, played by violinist Takako Nishizaki and pianist Terence Dennis.

Here is a link for Spotify

October 28, 2018 at 09:01 AM · "72.191.13.233";

Since the article was not specifically addressed to men or women, why should men's perspectives not be introduced? Each can learn something from the other.

Many upstanding men are indeed worried about the possibility of false accusations, through no fault of their own.

(Note: This is NOT an opinion about Preucil's guilt or innocence.)

October 28, 2018 at 01:00 PM · Too bad it took ten plus years and new management for the Orchestra to do the right thing, finally. Former Exec. Dir. Gary Hansen could and should have acted while these abuses were happening on his watch! Hiding behind a Floskel that “It’s important to understand that the allegations were not judged then as they would be today” (Hansen’s quote) displays lack of courage to “stand up and be counted.”

October 28, 2018 at 05:17 PM · To 107.5.47.117:

Because when responding to THIS particular article about THIS particular well-documented sexual predator, the only inference to be drawn from introducing the "male perspective" in questioning women's pasts or bringing in hypothetical falsely accused men, is that THESE women's private lives should be looked at, and the possibility that PREUCIL is being falsely accused should be considered. It's offensive.

Write your own blog post if you want to cast aspersions on accusers or suggest that specific men are being falsely accused, and be prepared to document your assertions. THIS blog post is about blameless women whose careers were damaged, and the decades-long misbehavior, well investigated and documented, of a powerful man. Read the report, if you haven't already, and I strongly suspect you have not.

October 28, 2018 at 06:54 PM · As impolitic as this may sound, one has to also ask, how many women willingly consented to Preucil’s advances, and received career benefits in the Cleveland Orchestra or elsewhere as a result.

October 28, 2018 at 07:49 PM · Wow. I didn’t think it was possible for comments to sink any lower.

October 28, 2018 at 08:57 PM · Mary Ellen, are there no men and women who will trade intimacy for money or favors?

October 28, 2018 at 09:07 PM · Mary it’s a reality that things like this have in fact happened Cleveland and elsewhere. If you read the report released by the Cleveland Orchestra, a junior colleague of Preucil’s in the orchestra had a sexual relationship with him.

October 28, 2018 at 09:56 PM · Of course it is possible that there are men or women who would do such things, although the people who were rumored to have been helped in Cleveland were family members, not paramours. I have never heard any stories about anyone gaining favor by consenting to Preucil's advances although I have heard plenty of stories, going back decades, about his unwanted attentions, and the professional orchestra world is very small. But what is the purpose of such comments on this blog article? Is it to suggest that Preucil probably wasn't really all that bad by insinuating that he had some willing partners? Is it to suggest that he may have been falsely accused? Is it to suggest that those accusing him had questionable pasts of their own? Any way one looks at it, such suggestions in this context are inappropriate at best and offensive at worst. Read the report, linked in the article. It is damning.

October 28, 2018 at 10:13 PM · I did read the report, and that's not what I was suggesting, by any means. I'm pretty close to Cleveland, have customers and friends in the orchestra, have had customers and friends in the Cleveland Institute of Music, and hear most of the dirt. Or at least a good deal of it.

What other posters intended, I don't know. You'd need to ask them. My own tendency is to take things as literally stated, and avoid making assumptions, or reading much more into them than was actually said.

An inconvenient fact is that some very upstanding men have concerns about being falsely accused. It's not like it has never happened. I don't see why it's inappropriate for that to be mentioned, when sexual misconduct is being discussed.

Again, I'll emphasize that this is NOT any sort of claim or implication that Preucil is not guilty. But despite that very clear refutal, I don't suppose I can prevent anybody from envisioning it any way they wish.

October 29, 2018 at 01:56 PM ·

Every case is a little different. Every situation is a little different. Some are guilty and some are not.

I don't think using this case as a catalyst for deeper discussion on this subject puts a bad light on the victims or makes them look guilty. I don't think it's wrong have such a discussion around this case, mainly because I think cases like this one serve to further solidify the public perception that when a man's name comes up under accusations like these, the public mind is further solidified into a "guilty until proven innocent".

If an accuser can get your name in the

press you are probably ruined, guilty or not. Anyone in the US would be remiss not to be aware of what recently happened to the most recent supreme court justice.If the motive had not been politically motivated none of it would have happened.

What I'm attempting to put across here is very simple. The press isn't the end word in judging a man.

When parties approach a court system all the facts need to come in and be accounted for.I'm simply saying we need to be very careful when looking at these kinds of cases.

Any male, especially one in a very visible position, needs to be especially careful they aren't put into a compromised position. If you are in a position to be accused falsely, then make sure there are other parties around if in close quarters with anyone.Never be alone with anyone on the job.

Females who have been victims need to be prepared to put it out there right away. Don't wait years to come forth about it.

October 29, 2018 at 07:13 PM · It's really not that hard. If you are teaching someone, if you are hiring someone, if they are beholden to you, keep it professional. If they look pretty that day, err on the side of caution. If you have the hots for them and you just can't control yourself, go get some mental health treatment.

Videotaping lessons is a great idea for reviewing what was learned at the lesson. The idea that you need to do so to protect yourself from a bunch of vipers that are trying to take you down is absurd. This is sex panic meets conspiracy theory.

If you just act professionally, you will be fine. Just look at how long these cancerous people stay in their jobs long after their behaviors are open secrets - The system is not rigged against men. Nut up, guys, and quit playing victim.

October 29, 2018 at 10:53 PM · "Videotaping lessons is a great idea for reviewing what was learned at the lesson. The idea that you need to do so to protect yourself from a bunch of vipers that are trying to take you down is absurd. This is sex panic meets conspiracy theory."

____________________________

Christian, who in this discussion has asserted anything even remotely close to "a bunch of vipers that are trying to take you down", other than you?

Is being taken down by a bunch of vipers some fantasy you have? ;-)

That level of exaggeration and hyperbole doesn't do anything to promote understanding between genders, nor trust, nor reasonable caution on both sides.

October 30, 2018 at 03:50 PM · Look, I'm not about to instruct some robot on the internet on how to parse a bunch of hypothetical whining about how innocent boys need to be careful.

Careful about what? If they're innocent, then the only thing they have to be careful about is a bunch of evil women that are out to get them, clearly. I don't know if the shouting about how men are victims is worse, or the concern-trolling about how we need to hear out both sides - Surely you could use your smarminess to society's benefit!

October 30, 2018 at 08:26 PM · "A bunch of evil women that are out to get them"?

No. All it takes is one to make things very difficult, or to turn your life upside down. Or it could be a male. I'm sorry, but you are woefully naive.

It's sad that you are willing to use the tactic of mischaracterizing what others have said, in order to ridicule their positions, rather than presenting cogent arguments. That's a mental wimp tactic.

What do you suppose is one of the main reasons it has become so common for physicians to have a witness/"chaperone" in the room when performing exams? Is it because doctors are unreasonably paranoid?

October 31, 2018 at 03:59 PM · I may be a mental wimp, David, but I'm not the one crying about how the women are going to get me. Where's your cogent argument? Are you an upstanding guy? Do women falsely accuse you of sexual harassment? No? Then where's your evidence? You can cherry pick examples here and there, but I'd like you to find some legitimate stats to back up your claim and make a cogent argument. Because otherwise you sound like a wimp, and being a huge wimp myself, I recognize the slightest bit of wimpery.

October 31, 2018 at 05:45 PM · "I may be a mental wimp, David, but I'm not the one crying about how the women are going to get me."

_______________________

Sheesh, who here has claimed that either men or women are out to get anyone, aside from when they do?

Some studies and stats:

Lonsway, Archambault, & Lisak, 2009: 7.1 percent rate of false reports.

Lisak et al., 2010: 5.9 percent rate of false reports.

Heenan & Murray, 2006: 2.1 percent rate of false reports.

These studies didn't involve reports which were deemed to be mistaken, or lacking evidence, but shown to be false.

Another research paper:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315728247_The_Prevalence_of_False_Allegations_of_Rape_in_the_United_States_from_2006-2010

A resource showing actual convictions for various crimes, in which the defendants were later exonerated:

National Registry of Exonerations:

http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/browse.aspx

You can google the Duke Lacrosse Case.

Yes sir, you are a wimp, also evidenced in your numerous videos.

Again, this is NOT an opinion on the Preucil matter, nor a denial that power sometimes gets abused.

October 31, 2018 at 11:07 PM · I am in a position to throw stones, because I never did what Preucil is accused of doing. But I won’t take advantage of this. I pity him; but whatever he has done, he will have to deal with the consequences.

"There is no basic right to opening your mouth and making personal comments about people (of any gender)."

Actually, there is -- that is, in what we call the public square. There's little to restrain you except the norms of common decency and your own good breeding. Of course, rights imply responsibilities. If you misuse your right of free speech, you could get hit with a lawsuit for defamation, slander, or libel.

"If an accuser can get your name in the press you are probably ruined, guilty or not. Anyone in the US would be remiss not to be aware of what recently happened to the most recent Supreme Court justice. If [this] had not been politically motivated none of it would have happened."

Amen to that. When his detractors on the political left could see that Brett Kavanaugh was on his way to Supreme Court confirmation, they tried the Hail Mary Pass -- an unsubstantiated, uncorroborated 11th-hour allegation going back to 1982. And it blew up in their faces! It has already damaged the #MeToo movement -- not to mention the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, someone I strongly believe was used by the political left. She was in way over her head.

"Females who have been victims need to be prepared to put it out there right away. Don't wait years to come forth about it."

Agreed. If your son or daughter were the victim of a child molester, would you wait 10+ years to go to the authorities? I've heard multiple reasons why women hesitate to come forward when they are victims. One not often mentioned has to do with what we call "discovery" in a legal case. Some of these victims don't want shadier details of their own private lives to come to light -- e.g., promiscuity, under-age drinking, patronizing questionable entertainment venues. What I've heard and read so far about Ford points that way.

"All it takes is one [accuser] to make things very difficult, or to turn your life upside down."

Yes. When a young lady tried to flirt with me and I gave her the cold shoulder, she tried to smear my name in revenge -- and failed miserably. No one believed her. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

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