San Francisco Opera cancels David Daniels’ Performance Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Husband Scott Walters Takes Leave from Directing Out Loud Chorus as Scandal Intensifies

Jason A. Michael
By | 2018-11-16T13:08:21-04:00 November 14th, 2018|Michigan, News|

In a press release posted on their website Nov. 8, the San Francisco Opera announced it was removing University of Michigan professor and countertenor David Daniels from the role of Medoro in Handel’s “Orlando.” Initially planning to present the opera next summer, the announcement comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed last month against Daniels in which it is alleged that he sexually assaulted one of his students.
“The decision to part ways with Mr. Daniels, for business and professional reasons, was reached after considerable deliberation given the serious allegations of sexual assault, an ongoing police investigation and a lawsuit filed against the American opera singer,” read the Opera’s statement. “While these situations remain under investigation, San Francisco Opera is unable to present the artist on the War Memorial Opera House stage.”
The lawsuit was filed last month in federal court by University of Michigan student Andrew Lipian. He alleges that Daniels invited him to his apartment last March and then proceeded to ply him with liquor and Tylenol, that was revealed to be Ambien, before forcing himself upon Lipian. Following the encounter, he claims that Daniels told him he would likely be receiving a full fellowship for his master’s program.
In a statement released through a Florida public relations firm, Daniels denied the claims.
“These allegations are both false and malicious,” read the statement. “I have never had a physical relationship with the individual mentioned in this complaint. The events alleged here never happened and I intend to defend my reputation. I am an openly gay man who has been married to a wonderful partner for the past four years. It pains me that someone, for reasons that I cannot fathom, would attempt to destroy my career, the program at Michigan and all that I hold dear.”
Lipian’s lawsuit is just the latest chapter in an ongoing sexual assault saga for Daniels. In August, singer Samuel Schultz alleged in a story in the New York Daily News that Daniels and his then-partner, now-husband Scott Walters drugged and sexually assaulted him following a 2010 performance in Houston. In the story, Schultz said he awoke the next morning disoriented, in pain and bleeding from the rectum. Following the allegation, Daniels took a leave from the University of Michigan.
Initially, though, Walters continued as artistic director of the Out Loud Chorus, a position he has held for just over a year. But on Nov. 2, in the wake of the lawsuit, Walters announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from directing in an email sent to Out Loud Chorus members.
“As all of you know, my husband and I have been accused of sexual assault by a young man in Houston,” Walters’ email read. “This last week it was reported that one of my husband’s students is accusing him of sexual assault. These are very serious allegations that should, and will, be addressed in a court of law. I wish I could share additional details with you, but again, this should be presented in a court of law. I understand the visceral implications of these allegations, and for that reason I am taking an indefinite leave of absence. My presence is a distraction to the Out Loud Chorus and you should be focusing on music, community, and fellowship.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.