EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon received four complaints alleging inappropriate behavior by the former artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival before his abrupt firing in August, a newspaper reported.
The complaints against Matthew Halls were from at least three unnamed women festival performers, according to documents recently released by the university as part of a public records request.
One of the performers contacted festival leadership to make complaints of sexual harassment against Halls, but it’s unclear if that person filed a formal complaint, The Register-Guard reported .
Another complaint claimed Halls treated women performers differently, and his feedback was focused on their physical appearance. A different complaint claimed Halls did not respond appropriately to a sexism allegation against another person.
The university heavily redacted a complaint investigation document on the allegations of sexism against Halls, so the complete picture was not provided. The university cited privacy protection exemptions as justification for redacting large sections describing the allegations.
In a written statement on Wednesday, Halls said he did not know about the complaints until this week.
“At no stage did anybody from the University of Oregon or the Oregon Bach Festival leadership present me — or my attorney — with these documents,” Halls said. “I was not given any opportunity to respond to these complaints before my contract was terminated. At no time did UO leadership talk to me about any impropriety on my part or suggest any changes in my teaching methods or treatment of musicians.”
Festival director Janelle McCoy decided to fire Halls in August after the last two complaints surfaced, according to emails exchanged with an outside consultant. The consultant recommended a different course of action, but the termination was signed off by university leadership the next day.
In September, the university paid a $90,000 settlement to Halls to resolve a dispute about how much the university owed him after ending his contract As part of that settlement, Halls and the university agreed to not make negative comments about the other moving forward.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com