NEW YORK • After accusations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse, Peter Martins, the powerful leader of New York City Ballet who shaped the company for more than three decades, has decided to retire.
"I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct," Martins, 71, said of the accusations in a letter dated on Monday informing the board of his retirement, which takes effect immediately.
Martins, who has been on leave as the company investigates his actions, added: "I cooperated fully in the investigation and understand it will be completed shortly. I believe its findings would have vindicated me."
Mr Charles W. Scharf, chairman of the ballet's board, issued a statement thanking Martins for his contributions, but noted that the investigation is continuing.
Board members were told of his decision in a conference call on Monday evening, when they also learnt that he had been arrested last Thursday for driving while intoxicated in Westchester County, New York, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting who requested anonymity.
In 2011, Martins pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.
In his letter, he said the abuse and harassment allegations by dancers "exacted a painful toll on me and my family". He said he had decided to retire to "bring an end to this disruption".
In recent interviews, 24 women and men - all former dancers at the company or its school - described a culture of intimidation under Martins, which they said has hurt the careers of generations of performers.
But other dancers have defended him.