A surprise start to the David Daniels trial in Houston came about when his lawyer announced to the judge that there was a new offer that he wanted to discuss with his client. An hour later they were back in court, a plea deal was announced, and the countertenor and his husband Scott Walters pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young singer in 2010.
Daniels, 57, and Walters, 40, entered their pleas on Friday 4 August after the jury was assembled for a trial of first-degree felony charges of aggravated sexual assault. However, the pair pleaded guilty to sexual assault of an adult, which is a second-degree felony, and were subsequently sentenced to eight years probation and they are required to register as sex offenders. The plea deal means that they avoid prison, though they will be registered as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
Samuel Schultz filed a criminal complaint in 2018 alleging that the couple assaulted him in 2010 after a reception at Houston Grand Opera. Shultz was a graduate student at the city's Rice University at the time and had gone to the opera house to hear the singer he ‘idolised' in a performance of Handel's Xerxes.
Schultz was invited to their apartment after the reception where he was given a laced drink. After that, he said he only remembered fleeting moments during the night, including watching pornography on television and Daniels raping him. He awoke alone and naked and bleeding from the rectum.
Schultz came forward with his allegations in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement and Daniels and Walters were arrested in 2019, though released on bail, saying that the encounter was consensual. Daniels' singing contracts were cancelled, and he was suspended in 2018 and then fired in 2020 from his position as professor at the University of Michigan.
The names of victims of sexual assault are usually undisclosed, but Schultz agreed to identify himself to help others afraid of reporting an assault. In a statement on Friday, he said that the rape and its aftermath was a “nightmarish ordeal”.
Shultz, a baritone, now 36, remarked to The New York Times, “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.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.