Post by Sons of Vaval on Aug 23, 2018 21:56:08 GMT -5
Colleges in Massachusetts and Ohio have abruptly cut ties with a Boston-area concert organist of international acclaim amid allegations of sexual misconduct dating back decades.
James David Christie, widely regarded as one of the greatest organists of his generation, has resigned his post as distinguished artist-in-residence at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, the school said Thursday. He has also left Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he was a professor of organ and chair of the organ department. Christie has played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra since at least 1980, and he served as Wellesley College organist for years.
A group of former students wrote Holy Cross president Rev. Philip L. Boroughs earlier this month, charging that Christie “is an imminent danger to students on your campus.”
“Several of us were sexually abused by Prof. Christie while we were Holy Cross students,” the group wrote in its Aug. 3 letter. “Holy Cross has enabled Prof. Christie’s misconduct, and has a responsibility now to respond to our coming forward as quickly and decisively as possible.”
In a statement to the Globe on Thursday, Holy Cross said the college “was informed of allegations of serious misconduct and immediately placed Mr. Christie on administrative leave, in accordance with college policy. Mr. Christie had submitted a letter of resignation, and he will not be returning to the College.”
An Oberlin spokesperson referred the Globe to a general statement dated Thursday on the school’s website regarding recent allegations of sexual misconduct against unnamed faculty members. In a Thursday e-mail to Oberlin students, staff, and faculty obtained by the Globe, conservatory dean Andrea Kalyn said the school’s Title IX officer recently received reports that Christie had allegedly violated Oberlin’s sexual misconduct policy.
“Professor Christie was informed of these allegations and was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation,” wrote Kalyn. “He has resigned, and no longer teaches at Oberlin.”
A Wellesley spokeswoman said the college has “no record of any complaints” against Christie, adding that in 2016 he was classified as an independent contractor there.
Christie, 66, did not respond to multiple telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Christie, who was named International Performer of the Year for 2017 by the American Guild of Organists’ New York City Chapter, has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras during his long career. He has appeared on numerous recordings and has strong ties to the Boston area, where his work with the BSO has been singled out by reviewers in recent years.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the BSO said the orchestra had been unaware of the allegations against Christie, who performed with the orchestra as a freelance musician and has no formal title with the BSO.
“The Boston Symphony Orchestra has never had complaints against Mr. Christie,” the statement read. “Mr. Christie is not on the schedule to perform with the BSO this upcoming season, and there are no plans to engage him for future performances with the orchestra.”
In multiple interviews with the Globe, former students at Holy Cross and Oberlin described a consistent pattern of sexual harassment by Christie. Some said the organist used his considerable artistic standing to manipulate and cajole students, dangling before them entrance to some of classical music’s most rarefied circles. Former students also described a sexually charged environment that included lewd comments, large amounts of alcohol, and unwanted touching over a period between 1994 and 2017.
Two of the former Holy Cross students who signed the letter also described long-term sexual relationships Christie initiated with them as undergraduates. The two men, who were younger than 21 at the time, said the relationships often involved heavy drinking and unprotected sex in a variety of public spaces, including green rooms, concert halls, Christie’s office at Holy Cross, and in and around the pipe organ at the school’s Saint Joseph Memorial Chapel.
The Globe confirmed key elements of the former students’ accounts through e-mails, Facebook messages, and interviews with friends and acquaintances who either witnessed the events firsthand or learned of them soon after they occurred.
The five signatories to the Holy Cross letter were all recipients of a prestigious organ scholarship at the school, a position that involves assistant duties and close study with Christie, who has served as distinguished artist-in-residence at the school for more than 30 years.
The former students said Christie frequently injected sexual topics into conversation and often physically groped them, rubbing their thighs, proffering massages, and grabbing their rear ends.
“I also heard descriptions of the size and shape of other men’s penises — other professors, concert organists, and students,” Jeff Wood, who graduated from Holy Cross in 2006 and went on to study with Christie at Oberlin, recalled in a written account of his experiences that he shared with the Globe and the Title IX office at Holy Cross.
Jake Street, who graduated from Holy Cross in 2010 and also went on to study with Christie at Oberlin, said Christie would often discuss his sexual conquests and the sexual anatomies and predilections of others.
Street recalled a 2010 trip to Toronto where he and Christie drank heavily, eventually arriving one evening at his mentor’s hotel room.
“At some point, my belt and zipper were undone, and my pants were down around my knees,” Street recalled in a written account of his experiences he shared with the Globe. He says he does not remember who removed his pants: “I remember him getting quiet in that moment, and I eventually fled.”
Jennifer McPherson, who graduated from Holy Cross in 2013 and previously dated Street, recalled that Street told her about the experience after the Toronto trip.
She added that Christie would often press her for information about her own sex life. “If I did not joke with him in return, he would then say I was prudish and should experiment more,” McPherson recalled in a written statement. “Sex was one of his favorite subjects. If I wanted to be a part of Jim’s ‘circle,’ I had to play along.”
Wesley Hall, who studied extensively with Christie at Oberlin despite what he called the organist’s repeated unwanted physical contact, put it succinctly: “He’s the best organ teacher in America, and he could destroy your dreams.”
Hall, who said he has spoken with the Title IX office at Oberlin, added: “He has asked me at least 10 times in lessons if I wanted to take my shirt off.”
Sean Redrow first met Christie when he was an aspiring organist in high school, practicing before a master class with Christie.
He was soon taking lessons with Christie, securing the coveted organ scholarship to Holy Cross starting in 1994.
The relationship quickly went beyond mere touching at the keyboard, as Christie lavished praise and affection on his young student, telling him he was a rare talent and giving him a glimpse of life as a musician of international renown: “money, power . . . the College job at the school I loved more than anyplace or anything ever. He said he’d give it to me when he retired,” recalled Redrow in a written statement. “I would have to be prepared to give up all of my connections to family and friends because being an artist of my caliber would require frequent travel and/or moving to different parts of the country and globe in order to live up to my gift.”
Redrow said the relationship soon turned sexual and involved heavy drinking. “We’d have some drinks, or wine, and then we would have sex,” said Redrow, adding that some of the episodes occurred at the home of Christie, who then lived in Newton.
In one episode, Redrow recalled he and Christie were helping tune the organ at the Holy Cross chapel.
“He took his penis out of his pants, started stroking it, and saying, ‘Come on,’ ” recalled Redrow, who said his professor was urging him to perform fellatio.
Brett Maguire, who graduated from Holy Cross in 2002 and went on to study with his mentor at Oberlin, said Christie told him about the episode with Redrow in the organ loft.
Maguire explained that the first gay sexual experience of his own life was with Christie, initiated by his teacher.
“Christie has amazing artistic privilege . . . at Holy Cross to hand select from the most talented young organ students, to groom them as he sees fit,” Maguire said in a statement. “He has abused this position, using his power of selection to surround himself with insecure young men — teenagers — to satisfy his sexual appetites.”
From a commentary posted just a few hours ago, we read:
The reader who sent me the piece about Christie, and who is part of his world, says:
I can vouch for it being another case of “everybody knew.” The alcohol. The lewd remarks. Now the details of the sexual abuse. … Like the article mentioned, he was the sort that could make or break your career, in what is a very tight-knit/close professional community. I mean, everybody knows JDC.
Let it all come down, these rotten structures that allow powerful men to exploit and bully and even rape others.
The allegations in the article referenced previously in this thread indicate this activity went on "between 1994 and 2017."
Do we know exactly when JDC came to HC?
We do know who became president of Holy Cross on July 1, 1994.
In terms of gaining a fuller appreciation and understanding of what has transpired at Holy Cross, I would start from that date and probe "who knew what, when did they know it, and what if anything did they do about it?" Given the prolonged period over which this activity is alleged to have occurred, are we to believe that nothing was ever previously brought to anybody's attention and then put on file? Further questions that inquiring minds may have include: 1. who runs the background checks at HC and what do the background checks entail? 2. who maintains the personnel files? 3. what sort of internal reviews and personnel oversight are in place? All Management 101 sort of fare.
Would certainly appear that there are some serious failures to perform -- and protect -- by those in the administration and ultimately the board over a protracted period of time. Very disheartening but to steal an oft-used analogy, "you never find just one mouse."
Terrible story and beyond the personal tragedies involved, it provides more bad publicity for Holy Cross.
While we give out very little in academic merit aid at Holy Cross there is a specific music scholarship for organists:
The Organ Scholarship is a four-year, full tuition, scholarship, renewable on a yearly basis, offered to a high school senior who will major in music or double major in music and another discipline. The recipient of this scholarship will have at his/her disposal the 1985 four manual, 50-stop mechanical action organ built by Taylor & Boody Organ builders, located in the beautiful St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. Please note: the organ scholarship is not offered every year. www.holycross.edu/academics/programs/music/music-scholarships
In the context of the sexual misconduct allegations, the phrase "renewable on a yearly basis" is disturbing and certainly ideal for a 'groomer'.
"The five signatories to the Holy Cross letter were all recipients of a prestigious organ scholarship at the school, a position that involves assistant duties and close study with Christie, who has served as distinguished artist-in-residence at the school for more than 30 years."
Post by Pakachoag Phreek on Aug 24, 2018 5:58:07 GMT -5
An Oberlin laudatory release on Christie in 2017, on his being named international [organ] performer of the year. He is a graduate of Oberlin. From the article, it appears Holy Cross told Oberlin of the allegations, and Oberlin then investigated and found that Christie had violated Oberlin's conduct policy. Several of the Holy Cross students named in the Globe article subsequently matriculated at Oberlin under Christie..
____________________ Edited to add that Christie is the College Organist at Wellesley, and a guest professor at the Paris Conservatory, the Cracow Conservatory, the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, the Conservatory of Versailles, the Dom Bedos Organ Academy in Bordeaux, the International Summer Organ Academy in the Haarlem (Netherlands),
To think that when they got that magnificent Boody organ and made such a big deal about it, it obviously attracted this predator to the campus and became "bait" for him. Think this guy would have come to Holy Cross without the Boody organ?
Yeah, Rob, I signed up for Boroughs' RI president's reception with the promise to my wife that 1. She won't have to go and 2. I can ask him no questions. I just want to watch how he handles everything.
In 1985, the College commissioned the installation in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel of a Taylor and Boody four-manual, tracker action baroque pipe organ. The award-winning, 52-foot high, 10-ton organ was built over a two-year period by a team of craftsmen in the tradition of 16th and 17th century Dutch and north German organs. George K. Taylor and John Boody led the project.
James David Christie, organist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was appointed College Organist and presently holds the position of Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. A series of six organ concerts is offered yearly and has featured such internationally acclaimed artists as Gustav Leonhart, Marie-Claire Alain, Martin Haslebock, Thomas Schmogner and Jurg Neuenschwander.
1. I don't have any doubt what we are hearing is true. 2. Given that the students involved were probably adults, there is likely no issues of statutory rape as we see at boarding schools. 3. If he got students drunk and then had relations with them when they were unable to consent, he may have criminal liability for claims that are within the statute of limitations. The College should formally notify the police and invite an investigation. 4. The nature of this type of abuse is that it happens in private and sometimes others don't know it is happening. This should not be taken as an opportunity to smack around administrators we don't like (I see td128 has already taken a shot at Father Reedy and bbc has taken one at Fr. Boroughs) If the investigation shows that they, or others, knew, or blindly looked away, we should be told and appropriate steps should be taken. 5. The College should have outside counsel launch an investigation today and have separate counsel (perhaps this is covered by insurance) prepared to try to resolve any liability claims (failure to supervise, etc.) as soon as possible.
Bravo to these great Holy Cross alums who have the courage to stand up and call this guy out. They are truly men and women for others.
Seton Hall announced today that they have secured an outside law firm to investigate the incidents of sexual abuse at the two seminaries they sponsor (related to Bishop McCormick). I agree with alum that Holy Cross (and Oberlin) may want to have some outside source look at this situation. It appears that as soon as they learned of the accusations, they took immediate (and appropriate) steps to correct the situation. Even if abuses took place years ago, if HC administration had no prior knowledge, I am not sure why they are being attacked over this.
Post by Pakachoag Phreek on Aug 24, 2018 7:38:49 GMT -5
Christie was college organist at Wellesley. Looking at the Wellesley College faculty and staff listings, his name appears to have been recently removed, even from server cache.
This concert will demonstrate the extraordinary Charles B. Fisk organ in Houghton Chapel. Performed by James David Christie, the evening will feature diverse solo organ works from the 16th through the 18th centuries, including works of Sweelinck, Scheidt, Scheidemann, a 16th-century anonymous Dutch composer, Storace, de Macque, Correa de Arauxo, and Pablo Bruna.
James David Christie is an American organist with an extensive performance career throughout the world and especially in Europe. Christie is the organist of Wellesley College
I don't have enough information to answer that. I think that there is a hierarchy (or perhaps "lowerarchy" ) of people in these cases I would rank them as
1. The abuser himself or herself 2. The supervisor who had hiring and firing power, knew about the abuse and did nothing about it. 3. The supervisor who had hiring and firing power and ignored signs of a problem. 4. The supervisor who had hiring and firing power and didn't know about it because the operation was not set up in a way to uncover this kind of conduct. 5. The non-supervisor co-worker who knew and did nothing 6. The non-supervisor co-worker who chose to ignore the signs 7. The people unrelated to the institution who knew about the misconduct and could have reported it and did not (e.g. coworkers at other places, friends, and family members of the abusers)
Some of these people have legal liability, they all have some sort of moral responsibility.
Dealing with these allegations in a college setting presents challenges. The students are adults and can, in theory, consent although the complainants here make a strong case that this guy groomed them with alcohol when they were underaged. I assume that College employees are not allowed to have sexual relationships with students, but that simply means they get fired if it is consensual. That does not mean that the College does not have a moral responsibility to its students to keep jerks like this guy away from the students, but it may not be a legal one. It does not sound like he is tenured faculty so it is surely easier to get rid of him.
So, Father B and other administrators have responsibility if they fall into categories 2, 3 and 4. It is certainly possible that the College did all of the right things and this guy was just that evil. That is what needs to be investigated. I don't like condemning people just to respond in the same news cycle.
Ths most distressing thing about this story is that he used the Scholarship to attract students and make them beholden to him.
The music department certainly has a lengthy list of professionals working at the school. Who, among the faculty here is responsible for the operation of this music dept ? Fr. B is the ultimate responsible party but someone here let him down with poor oversight. www.holycross.edu/academics/programs/music/faculty-staff
Post by WCHC Sports on Aug 24, 2018 9:05:21 GMT -5
Why would the accusers come forward now? Is it the string of allegations that have been coming forward across the landscape lately? Is that inappropriate to ask? I'm not saying it minimizes the ugliness of it all, just curious...
Why would the accusers follow this guy to Oberlin after HC if he was subjecting them to torment for years? Was it the appeal or promise of his career contacts within the musical industry and profession?
Laughter is the best medicine except when you have E.D.
Some professional(s) may have let him and the school down, but not nearly as much as those students and alums who participated in it and did not report this from ‘94.
So, you are asking if a victim has a moral obligation to report an abuser to protect potential future victims. It has been a long time since I read Kant in a couple of different courses at HC, but I think that he would say that such a duty exists if is possible. I think that you might find that some victims are incapable, at least for a time, because of the trauma. I think that the #metoo movement is based, whether its participants realize it or not, on the idea that there is some sort of duty to speak out.
I think guys like Weinstein and this guy were good at figuring out how to wield their power to get what they wanted. They didn't anticipate that power would swing so quickly to the victims.