Opera Star, Charged With Sexual Assault, Is Fired by University of Michigan

The University of Michigan on Thursday fired David Daniels, a professor of voice and one of the world’s leading countertenors, one year after he and his husband were charged with sexually assaulting another singer.

It was the first time in more than 60 years that the university’s Board of Regents had voted to dismiss a tenured faculty member, according to the board chairman, Ron Weiser. The board also denied Mr. Daniels severance pay.

“At the heart of every decision of the board is the safety and well-being of our students, and the integrity of the instruction to which our students are entitled,” Mr. Weiser said. “When the board sees this jeopardized by a tenured member of the faculty, we believe it is necessary to take the extreme action of dismissal.”

ImageDavid Daniels
Credit…Washtenaw County Jail, via Associated Press

Mr. Daniels rose to fame singing high parts that were once the province of castratos or mezzo-sopranos at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world. When he and his husband, Scott Walters, were married in 2014, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an avid opera fan, officiated.

But Mr. Daniels suffered a downfall in January 2019 after he and Mr. Walters were arrested and charged in connection with a 2010 episode in which a singer said he had been drugged and assaulted by the couple, according to charging documents filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Texas.

The singer, Samuel Schultz, who went public with his accusations in August 2018, said he had initially been afraid that speaking out about the episode would damage his fledgling career.

Mr. Schultz said that Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters had assaulted him when, as a graduate student at Rice University in Houston, he had gone to hear Mr. Daniels in Handel’s “Xerxes” at Houston Grand Opera.

After attending the performance and cast party, Mr. Schultz said, he was invited to Mr. Daniels’s and Mr. Walters’s apartment. There, he said, he was given a drink that caused him to lose consciousness. He awoke alone, he said, naked and bleeding from his rectum.

The University of Michigan said that it placed Mr. Daniels on an administrative leave in August 2018 and ordered him not to have contact with students after Mr. Schultz spoke out about the episode.

“I am thankful that the University of Michigan ultimately chose to protect its students from future harm,” Mr. Schultz wrote in an email on Thursday night. “Although the truth is inconvenient for those who deny victims their voice, the result of the investigation speaks for itself.”

The criminal case against Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters has not yet gone to trial.

Matt Hennessy, a lawyer for the couple, denied Mr. Schultz’s accusations in January 2019.

“David and Scott are innocent of any wrongdoing,” Mr. Hennessy said. “Sam Schultz is not a victim. He never would have gotten this much attention from his singing, and he knows and resents that fact. He waited eight years to complain about adult, consensual sex to ride the #MeToo movement to unearned celebrity. We will fight this.”

Michael Cooper contributed reporting.

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