BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Opera star Placido Domingo’s identify has appeared in an investigation of a sect-like group in Argentina that additionally had U.S. places of work and whose leaders have been charged with crimes, together with sexual exploitation.
Domingo, the Spanish opera singer who has confronted accusations of sexual harassment from quite a few girls over the previous three years, has not been accused of any wrongdoing within the Argentina case.
“Placido didn’t commit a crime, nor is he part of the organization, but rather he was a consumer of prostitution,” stated a legislation enforcement official, who spoke solely on situation of anonymity as a result of the investigation continues. Prostitution will not be unlawful in Argentina.
Regulation enforcement officers have carried out dozens of raids in Buenos Aires focusing on the Buenos Aires Yoga Faculty, which “built a cult around its leader” and lowered members to “a situation of slavery and/or sexual exploitation,” in keeping with prosecutors’ paperwork within the Argentine case towards the varsity.
The group arrange a enterprise construction that included places of work in Argentina and the USA, together with branches in not less than three U.S. cities: Las Vegas, Chicago and New York.
Up to now, 19 individuals have been detained in Argentina, whereas not less than three suspects are thought to stay at massive contained in the South American nation and 4 are being sought in the USA.
Domingo has not spoken publicly in regards to the newest developments and his representatives didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Wiretaps that have been a part of the judicial investigation recorded conversations during which a person who authorities establish as Domingo spoke to a member of the group, recognized as Susana Mendelievich, about assembly up with the opera star whereas he was in Buenos Aires for a collection of live shows in April.
The investigation into the sect has implicated individuals with connections to the classical music world and who carried out with Domingo up to now, together with Mendelievich, an Argentine pianist.
Mendelievich is alleged to be the particular person accountable for the group’s sexual exploitation actions, in keeping with a judicial official, who additionally spoke on situation of anonymity.
In one recording, the person recognized as Domingo talks to Mendelievich about how she will be able to go as much as his resort room with out being detected by his workers.
“When we leave the dinner we come separately, right?” the person recognized as Domingo says within the recording.
Mendelievich then talks to Juan Percowicz, 84, who was the alleged chief of the group.
“He already called me and set up the deal so I can stay in his hotel tonight without his agents realizing,” she stated.
In an earlier name with Percowicz, Mendelievich implies she had beforehand met with Domingo in New York.
“Among other things … Placido said he could come visit us. I mean, visit us means coming to visit me because he comes to my house in New York, and he reminded me of that yesterday,” the lady recognized as Mendelievich will be heard saying within the recording.
Sexual trafficking and exploitation have been the principle sources of revenue for the group that had an estimated income of round $500,000 per 30 days, in keeping with the judicial official.
The Buenos Aires Yoga Faculty had quite a few teams of ladies who have been compelled to take care of sexual encounters in alternate for cash, prosecutors allege. A minimum of seven girls have been included into the group once they have been nonetheless youngsters or youngsters and have been sexually exploited, in keeping with the prosecution’s paperwork.
Individuals got here from the USA to Argentina to have intercourse with the ladies and investigators say girls have been additionally transported to neighboring Uruguay and the U.S. for sexual encounters.
“The encounters supposed a practice of sexual slavery because the ‘students’ were put at the disposal of the clients at the time and place they wanted, for long periods of time,” in keeping with the paperwork.
The group had ties to different well-known public figures and their names ought to turn out to be public as soon as indictments are made official, the judicial official added.
In addition to alleged sexual exploitation, the group purportedly bought remedies, together with what have been referred to as “sleep cures” that concerned giving individuals remedy that may make them sleep for days at a time.
Percowicz, together with different members of the group, has been arrested below the order of Decide Ariel Lijo, who positioned dozens of properties and automobiles below embargo.
The group had roughly 179 college students, all of whom have been ranked in seven ranges. Advancing ranges concerned a “spiritual evolution” with the objective of reaching the seventh stage that implied “eternal reincarnation.”
In order to advance, members needed to take part in quite a few programs and perform duties, with Percowicz holding the ultimate resolution on who might advance. The method concerned socially isolating the members from their “biological family” and pals, in keeping with the charging paperwork.
The group additionally provided “philosophical coaching” programs by a separate firm, the B.A. Group, for individuals who had but to affix the varsity. These programs on topics like “personal happiness” and “leadership” have been usually used to woo new members.
The group was beforehand below judicial investigation within the early Nineteen Nineties however the probe was closed earlier than it reached trial.
Domingo, now 81, was one in all opera’s largest and most profitable stars and a member of The Three Tenors, which included José Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti.
Domingo’s picture was tarnished in the USA after greater than 20 girls accused him, in tales revealed by The Related Press, of sexual harassment and different inappropriate habits in encounters that came about from the late Nineteen Eighties to the 2000s. Dozens extra within the classical music world advised AP his habits was an open secret within the trade.
Investigations by the American Guild of Musical Artists and the Los Angeles Opera, the place Domingo had served as basic director, discovered sexual harassment allegations towards him to be credible.
The accusations and subsequent findings halted Domingo’s profession within the U.S. however he has continued to carry out in Europe and Latin America. His web site says he’s at the moment on tour in Mexico with performances later this month scheduled in Italy.
Related Press author Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco contributed to this report.