But now the Met — the nation’s largest performing arts organization and one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses — finds itself in the position that Hollywood studios, television networks and newsrooms have confronted in recent weeks, answering questions about what it knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against one of its stars, and what actions it did and did not take.
Mr. Gelb said allegations about Mr. Levine had reached the Met administration’s upper levels twice before, to his knowledge.
One was in 1979, when Anthony A. Bliss, who was then the Met’s executive director, wrote a letter to a board member about unspecified accusations about Mr. Levine that had been made in an unsigned letter.
“We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges,” Mr. Bliss wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, which said the Met had spoken “extensively” with Mr. Levine and his manager. “Scurrilous rumors have been circulating for some months and have often been accompanied by other charges which we know for a fact are untrue.” (Mr. Bliss died in 1991, and there is no record of the original, unsigned letter, so the specific accusations against Mr. Levine in it remain unclear.)
And then in October 2016, after Mr. Levine had stepped down from his position as music director, Mr. Gelb said he was contacted by a detective with the Lake Forest Police asking questions about Mr. Pai’s report.
Mr. Gelb said that he briefed the board’s leadership and that Mr. Levine denied the accusations. The company took no further action, waiting to see what the police determined. Then, on Saturday, the Met decided to investigate Mr. Levine after media inquiries about his behavior with young men.
Mr. Gelb said that the Met had appointed Robert J. Cleary, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm who was…