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Charles Dutoit Dismissed Swiss conductor denies sexual assault claims

According to Dutoit, informal, physical contact is common in the entertainment industry but he denied accusations of coercion

(Keystone)

Celebrated Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, who was dropped by several American symphony orchestras following claims of sexual harassment, claims he is innocent. 

"They are shocking not only to me but also to my friends and colleagues. I do not recognise the actions described,” the 81-year-old told the Associated Press news agency by email on Saturday. 

He added that informal, physical contact is common in the entertainment industry but denied accusations of coercion. He said he will be contacting his lawyers with a view to defending his reputation. 

Four women, three opera singers and a musician, complained that Dutoit had imposed unwanted physical contact on them. The incidents occurred between 1985 and 2010 in several American cities. Since the allegations were made public on Thursday, several American symphony orchestras (San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago, Cleveland) as well as the Sydney symphony orchestra have decided to suspend their collaboration with the Swiss conductor. 

Dutoit has conducted for many orchestras in Switzerland and abroad and won several international awards. He currently lives in Canada. 

+ More on how sexual assault allegations are handled in Switzerland

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ac

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