San Francisco Opera drops University professor after assault allegations

Monday, November 12, 2018 - 10:05pm

The San Francisco Opera has dropped David Daniels, professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance and a world-renowned countertenor singer, from their 2019 production of “Orlando” amid sexual assault allegations and lawsuit filed by a student at the University against him. The opera cited business and professional reasons for letting go of Daniels in their press release announced last Thursday.

The release stated the decision was made “after considerable deliberation given the serious allegations of sexual assault, an ongoing police investigation and a lawsuit filed against the American opera singer.”  

“While these situations remain under investigation, San Francisco Opera is unable to present the artist on the War Memorial Opera House stage,” the release read.

Daniels also had a performance from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra pulled shortly after the lawsuit was filed in October 2018.

The allegations began in March 2018, when an anonymous student reported Daniels’s solicitation for sexual favors on Grindr. The student filed a complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity two days later. In July 2018, baritone singer Samuel Schultz accused Daniels and Daniels’s husband, Scott Walters, of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in 2010. Music, Theatre & Dance senior Samuel Kidd then reported a solicitation from Daniels on Grindr later in July. In October 2018, Music, Theatre & Dance student Andrew Lipian filed a lawsuit accusing Daniels of sexually assaulting him earlier in March 2017.

After the reports of Grindr solicitation were first made to OIE, Daniels still made tenure at the University in May 2018 despite a brief OIE inquiry. Daniels has been on leave since August, and the University’s actions have been in question because of their knowledge of multiple reports since July. He is currently under investigation.

Lipian’s lawsuit alleges that on March 24, 2017, Daniels invited Lipian to his apartment to watch TV and discuss his career, and then drugged and assaulted Lipian. Lipian reported not being contacted by OIE for a University investigation. Lipian’s lawsuit also accuses the University of knowing of Daniels’s abusive behavior towards him and other students and still declining to take further actions.

On Oct. 31, Daniels denied all of the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct in a statement sent to the Detroit Free Press.

Whether the Music, Theatre & Dance School will be keeping Daniels on the faculty is still in question. Daniels has not officially been fired, but there has not been an interim professor hired since his leave. Daniels still receives pay and benefits from the University because of his leave status.