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Suspended NY Phil Oboist Files $100M Defamation Suit Against New York Magazine and Reporter

Liang Wang is suing Vox Media, publisher of New York Magazine, and reporter Sammy Sussman, after an April 2024 article raised serious allegations

 

New York Philharmonic principal oboist Liang Wang and associate principal trumpet Matthew Muckey were recently suspended from the ensemble following misconduct allegations revealed in a New York Magazine article.

The April 16 article in New York Magazine's “Vulture” section was written by reporter Sammy Sussman and explores the experience of former NY Philharmonic horn player, Cara Kizer. Sussman writes that the article was based on his interviews with Cara Kizer, her friends and colleagues, law-enforcement officials, and over 200 pages of documents from the Vail Police Department and Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Sussman reports that on July 24, 2010, the New York Philharmonic (NYP) finished the second concert in their weeklong residency in Colorado for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival when the alleged encounter happened.

After that night, Kizer "told the Vail Police Department that she had been sexually assaulted after spending the evening with the Muckey and Wang and was given a drink she came to believe was drugged," according to the New York Times.

Since these accusations, Liang Wang has now sued Vox Media, publisher of New York Magazine, and freelance reporter Sammy Sussman for defamation.

Filed this week in federal court, the suit "alleges that the defendants knew or were reckless in not knowing the article’s accusations against Wang were false, and accuses Sussman of continuing to defame Wang even after the article was published," reads the press release.

Wang is requesting a trial by jury and demands $100 million in compensatory damages.

Wang's attorney, Alan Lewis, Partner at Carter, Ledyard and Milburn, said in summarizing the Complaint’s allegations:

“New York Magazine published an article that was a gross departure from journalistic ethics and standards. The Corporate publisher and the author knew that the article was false because the Police records and arbitration decision cited by the article all disprove the false narrative published about Liang Wang.

Lewis claims that "the article's contention that Wang put a drug into the drink of a musician so that a third musician could assault her" has "permanently damaged Liang's reputation."

Since the allegations resurfaced, Wang was withdrawn as a faculty member from the Taipei Music Academy and Festival, and placed on leave from a teaching position at the Manhattan School of Music, which is opening an external investigation against him.

Muckey and Wang have also filed separate lawsuits against the New York Philharmonic in the Federal District Court in Manhattan, The New York Times reports.

The pair is claiming that the NY Phil removed them without cause and in violation of an arbitrator’s ruling, which had ordered the orchestra to reinstate them in 2020 after an earlier attempt to dismiss them.

The pair also sued their union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), accusing the organization of “[failing] and [refusing] to perform its duty of fair representation,” reads Muckey’s suit.

 

Additionally, this week advocates violinist Lara St. John and oboist Katherine Needleman led numerous classical music leaders in a protest at Lincoln Center to demand that the New York Philharmonic dissolve the standing NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and settlement agreement imposed upon Cara Kizer.

The group is also demanding transparency about the report of Barbara Jones, the lawyer who led an investigation in 2018 that led to the firing of Muckey and Wang.

Since the Vulture article, more than 6,000 people, including thousands of professionals in orchestras, academia, opera and ballet companies, and arts administrators, have signed a petition demanding that Kizer be completely released from a 2012 NDA.

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