Baltimore Symphony Orchestra suspends concertmaster Jonathan Carney after peace order filed against him

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has suspended concertmaster Jonathan Carney after allegations surfaced of Carney’s “inappropriate behavior” toward another orchestra’s employee, BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement.

BSO management decided to suspend Carney after it came to the group’s attention Thursday that Carney allegedly threatened an employee of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. A judge granted a peace order filed against Carney on Monday as a result of the Oct. 31 incident.

The peace order followed a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by principal oboist Katherine Needleman against the BSO related to sexual harassment allegations involving Carney. Needleman’s complaint alleged Carney retaliated against her after she rejected his advances in 2005, and that the orchestra allowed a hostile work environment.

“After a comprehensive independent investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior towards another musician in our own orchestra, we made it clear to Jonathan Carney that we would not tolerate inappropriate behavior, whether verbal or physical,” Kjome said in a statement. “In our view, Mr. Carney was not forthcoming about this current allegation.”

A hearing for the final peace order is scheduled for Tuesday and Carney will be suspended without pay through at least Tuesday, according to the BSO.

Carney could not be reached for comment Friday, but his attorney, Neil Ruther, said in a statement that Carney’s suspension was ”disappointing given the circumstances and facts of the situation.”

“My client has yet to speak for himself on the matter, which is why he did not get ahead of the process by discussing the matter with the BSO,” Ruther said in the statement. “We are confident that once the facts are known the issue will be promptly resolved with the BSO.”

Ruther also said Friday that the conversation between Carney and the woman stemmed from Needleman’s allegations.

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“Like anyone who has endured misrepresentations that caused harm to their reputation, he was emotional and had questions about why this individual would engage in such harmful behavior,” Ruther said.

In an email Friday, Needleman said she did not know the woman Carney allegedly threatened at the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and had never spoken to her.

“I have, however, had a similar threat directed at me by Jonathan Carney, and understand too clearly how frightening he can be,” Needleman said.

Other BSO musicians, including associate concertmaster Audrey Wright, will serve as concertmaster in upcoming BSO shows, according to the orchestra.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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