Choirmaster sentenced for abusing pupils

Posted by Malcolm Johnson on

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The media reports on the conviction of a choirmaster, who sexually abused a pupil at Chetham's School of Music. Sadly his victim took her own life having given evidence against him at trial.

Apparently a child abuse investigation has uncovered some 20 more potential victims. The convicted man had resigned from the school after an affair with another pupil was revealed in 1994, but he then went on to another senior position in youth music.

The mental anguish of this lady emphasises the sheer difficulty that people have disclosing abuse to a criminal court where they are subject to all manner of allegations, including the charge that they are making the whole thing up.  

There are procedures available to assist victims in giving evidence, such as video link and screens in court. The police also try to give victims up to date information as the prosecution proceeds, by providing a liaison officer. However there is only so much that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service can do, given that they are pursuing a criminal investigation, where they have to remain objective.

Consequently victims in the criminal process often feel entirely abandoned, and it is very difficult if not impossible for them to find any kind of legal representation. If they make a civil compensation claim or an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, they may be advised by a solicitor, but that solicitor is unlikely to have expert knowledge of the criminal law. Any advice that is given by their solicitor may end up before the judge in the criminal proceedings, as happened in two of the cases that I am at present running.

This is a tragic case. Whatever follows from the police investigation, it is to be hoped that the school in question will provide answers as to precisely how such a horrendous crime could be perpetrated by one of its own employees.  

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About the Author

Malcolm is an Senior Associate in our London office, with nearly twenty years' experience.

Malcolm Johnson
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