AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Seven women at the Austin Opera have come forward to describe a culture of permissiveness that allowed the opera's artistic director and conductor to inappropriately touch women and make crass comments without consequence.

The women told the Austin American-Statesman that opera executives and board members knew of Richard Buckley's behavior, but chose not to intervene because of his fame and talent.

On Feb. 1, Austin Opera said it fired Buckley for inappropriate behavior that violated the company's policy on harassment. The opera declined to provide further details.

Buckley told the Statesman in a statement that he never intended to offend anyone and that he used humor to "release pressure and defuse tension."

Buckley was in his 13th season with Austin Opera.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,