Cleveland Orchestra Fires William Preucil and Massimo La Rosa Following Outside Investigation of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Cleveland Institute of Music

The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday that concertmaster William Preucil and principal trombonist Massimo La Rosa have both been fired on the grounds of sexual misconduct, following the completion of an external investigation.

Debevoise and Plimpton were hired by the symphony to conduct an independent investigation on both Preucil and La Rosa. In the course of that work they interviewed over 70 people. Once the investigation had come to a close, the law firm found that Preucil and La Rosa both had "engaged in sexual misconduct and sexually harassing behavior with multiple female students and colleagues over a period of years while employed by the orchestra."

Investigators confirmed that both Preucil and La Rosa abused their power as prominent figures in the orchestral world. According to yesterday's report released publicly by the Orchestra, "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."

On Oct. 18, Preucil confessed in an interview with investigators that he had engaged in sexual contact with three female students during or after private lessons, but denied any other forms of misconduct. However, investigators noted that Preucil outright refused to answer some questions, many of which were in reference to sexual activities with women who hadn't previously gone public or had been identified in the press.

La Rosa had a similar response. Investigators found he abused his power during private lessons, made unwanted advances and refused to answer questions about allegations that hadn't already been identified on public record.

Eleven women were spoken to directly by investigators who all described sexual misconduct or sexual harassment at the hands of Preucil. Documentary evidence was also obtained by investigators, indicating a twelfth victim. The firm received indirect reports that Preucil engaged in misconduct with eight additional women. Preucil's first alleged act of misconduct took place in 1996, with the latest alleged incident in 2007.

2007 is also when Scene published "Sour Notes," an article by Rebecca Meiser about Preucil's years of misconduct that had long been swept under the rug. According to the investigator's report, former members of the symphony's management admitted to being aware of the published allegations, but "did not believe at the time that it warranted further investigation ... or that the orchestra could or should take any disciplinary action against Preucil.... Former Orchestra leadership should have done more to investigate the reports about Preucil’s behavior following the Cleveland Scene article."

The investigators found no evidence that anyone in Orchestra management knew of the specific allegations of Preucil other than what was published in Scene, despite the attention drawn by other allegations set forth in a Washington Post article earlier this year.

"Former Orchestra leadership should have done more to investigate the reports about Preucil’s behavior following the Cleveland Scene article."

In addition to being fired from the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, both Preucil and La Rosa were suspended from the Cleveland Institute of Music where they served as faculty before the investigations began. 

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