Trinity Wall Street Church has fired its music director, the influential composer and keyboardist Julian Wachner, as it investigates a claim that he sexually assaulted a former Juilliard employee.
The church, among the wealthiest in New York City, announced the termination of Wachner in a statement on Monday. The announcement comes two days after Wachner was placed on leave in the wake of a New York Times report that he had allegedly assaulted a former Juilliard employee in 2014. Wachner has denied the accusation.
“The investigation is ongoing, and thus the investigator has not yet made any determination about the veracity of the 2014 allegations,” the church’s statement read.
“Still, we have concluded based on recent information that Julian has otherwise conducted himself in a manner that is inconsistent with our expectations of anyone who occupies a leadership position,” it continued. “For this reason, Trinity has decided to end Julian’s employment with Trinity as of today.”
In an interview with the Times, Mary Poole, a former Juilliard employee, said Wachner assaulted her during a music festival in South Carolina eight years ago. She alleged that he “pushed her against a wall, groped her and kissed her, and that he ignored her demands that he stop,” according to the Times.
The account was corroborated by two people who said they recalled Poole describing the encounter at the time.
Wachner had overseen Trinity’s music program for 11 years, earning accolades and a Grammy nomination for leading the church choir’s annual performances of Handel’s “Messiah.” In addition to conducting, he is also a renowned composer and keyboardist, once described by the Washington Post as a “darling of the new-music scene and early-music scene at the same time.”
In an emailed statement, Andrew Miltenberg, an attorney for Wachner, said that his client “continues to dispute the nearly decade old, misleading and untrue allegations made against him.”
“We are exceptionally disappointed that Trinity has acted prior to completing a thorough investigation,” Miltenberg added. “Depriving Mr. Wachner of the benefit of the full narrative is the antithesis of due process and allows distortions to triumph over the truth.”
Gothamist’s attempts to reach Poole were not immediately successful.