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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,” Mr. Martins, 71, wrote in a letter informing the board of his retirement, which takes effect immediately. Board members were informed of Mr. Martins’s decision in a conference call Monday evening.

Charles W. Scharf, the chairman of the ballet’s board, issued a statement thanking Mr. Martins for his contributions, but noted the investigation is continuing: “The board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him and we expect the independent investigation of those allegations to be completed soon.”

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Peter MartinsCreditCindy Ord/Getty Images

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