Trinity Wall Street, a church in New York City, recently announced that it placed its famed director of music and the arts on leave while it investigates allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
A former employee at Juilliard accused the music director, who has been nominated for Grammy Awards and has served the church for more than a decade, of sexually assaulting her during the 2014 Juilliard music festival in Aiken, South Carolina. In an interview with The New York Times, the woman said she helped organize the festival, which featured the music director and the acclaimed Trinity choir.
During the festival, the music director allegedly asked her to get him a drink at a house where Juilliard staff members were staying. While she was preparing the drink in the kitchen, she claims the music director groped and kissed her for almost two minutes, ignoring her repeated calls for him to stop. The Times interviewed both a friend and a colleague of the woman, both of whom said they remembered her describing the encounter with the music director at the time.
The former Juilliard employee said she did not report the incident to law enforcement because she was in a different state and was "pressed for time in the middle of a tour."
She was 24 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assault. She said she felt powerless to defend herself against such an influential figure. She said she worried at the time that she would suffer professional consequences if she spoke up. She said she still has panic attacks that she attributes to the incident.
According to the Times, the woman reported the incident to Juilliard, which vowed not to hire the music director in the future. Juilliard issued a statement recently that it knew of "unacceptable conduct" by the music director in 2014. The school said that at the time of the incident, it offered full support to the employee and informed the music director that he would not be invited back.
In a statement to The New York Times, the church said that it first learned of sexual misconduct allegations against the music director through social media in February 2022. The former Juilliard employee had posted a detailed account of the alleged sexual assault on her social media accounts.
Trinity stated that it has hired outside counsel to investigate the allegations. The music director was placed on administrative leave on March 1, 2022, and will remain on leave during the investigation. The music director denied the allegations through his attorney. Javier C. Herna?ndez "Trinity Church?s Conductor Put on Leave Amid Investigation" www.nytimes.com (Mar. 13, 2022).