Los Angeles (AFP)

The Los Angeles Opera announced on Tuesday that the charges of "improper behavior" against opera star Placido Domingo were "credible" following an investigation commissioned by the California institution.

The Opera had hired the services of independent private investigators to investigate complaints against the Spanish artist. The latter concluded that "the level of embarrassment expressed by the women was variable" but that all the testimonies converged, the most serious mentioning "significant trauma".

Before the scandal, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the 79-year-old singer had renounced last fall the post of general director of the Los Angeles Opera, which he had occupied since 2003.

Placido Domingo, who was also artistic director then general of the Washington National Opera, is accused of sexual harassment by about twenty women in the United States, for facts dating back to the 1980s. According to surveys published in August and September by the Associated Press agency, they accuse him of touching, forced kissing and inappropriate remarks, and of having damaged their career if refused.

"Some people said they had given up reporting on Mr. Domingo's behavior because of his importance and influence," investigators from a law firm wrote in their findings.

In total, they heard 44 people, including ten alleged victims, the management of the Opera and Placido Domingo himself.

The facts alleged against the artist are between 1986, the date of his appointment as artistic advisor, and his departure from the institution in October 2019.

Investigators from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher note that Mr. Domingo cooperated with them and testified of his own free will, continuing to deny any touching or assault and ensuring that all of his relationships with the women had been consensual.

"Gibson Dunn often found him sincere in his protests but some of them were deemed less credible or uninformed," they write in their investigation summary.

Placido Domingo asked for forgiveness at the end of February from the women who accused him, before specifying two days later that he still rejected the accusations of harassment that target him.

Another independent investigation - commissioned by the American Union of Opera Artists - had already concluded that the tenor, who became baritone with age, had in the past "behaved inappropriately, ranging from flirting to sexual advances, breastfeeding and outside his workplace. "

Fallen in the United States, Placido Domingo has also recently given up singing at the Royal Opera House in London and in Spain, his native country.

© 2020 AFP