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Opera Star David Daniels Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault


The opera star David Daniels, one of the world’s leading countertenors, pleaded guilty on Friday in Houston to sexually assaulting a young singer who had attended one of his performances there in 2010.

The plea deal was announced just as the trial of Mr. Daniels, 57, and his husband, Scott Walters, 40, was about to begin.

Mr. Daniels pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual assault of an adult, a second-degree felony. He will face eight years of probation, a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender and an order that he refrain from contact with the singer he assaulted, Samuel Schultz. He avoided a more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony, which carries harsher penalties. Mr. Walters, who was facing the same charges, pleaded guilty under similar terms.

Mr. Daniels, who appeared on some of the world’s leading stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera in London, is one of the most prominent classical stars to face criminal charges during the national #MeToo reckoning. His performing career has suffered since his arrest in 2019, and he was fired from his position as a tenured professor of voice at the University of Michigan in 2020.

In a statement, Mr. Schultz said he was pleased by the outcome.

“I am glad that the defendants have acknowledged by their guilty pleas the truth of my traumatic experience, and that this portion of my nightmarish ordeal has finally concluded,” he said.

Mr. Schultz, a baritone who is now 36, was a 23-year-old graduate student at Rice University, in Houston, at the time of the encounter with Mr. Daniels. He went public with an accusation of rape in 2018 amid the #MeToo movement — first anonymously, in an online post, and then naming Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters as his attackers in an interview with The New York Daily News.

Mr. Schultz had accused the two men of assaulting him in May 2010 after he went to hear Mr. Daniels in Handel’s “Xerxes” at Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Schultz said he was introduced to Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters by a friend. After attending the performance and cast party, Mr. Schultz has said he was invited to Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters’s apartment. There, he said, he was given a drink that caused him to lose consciousness. He has said that he awoke alone, naked and bleeding from the rectum.

Mr. Daniels and Mr. Walters were arrested and charged with sexual assault in connection to the incident. They had previously denied the accusations, saying they had consensual sex with Mr. Schultz.

Mr. Daniels rose to fame as a countertenor, singing high parts that were once sung by castratos or mezzo-sopranos. His success helped open doors for other countertenors.



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