UK

Sex Abuse Allegations At Leading UK Music Schools

07/05/2013 21:14 BST
Alamy

Sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour took place at five of the UK's specialist music schools over a 40 year period, it has been reported.

The allegations - including claims that children as young as 10 were abused - implicates five elite music schools.

A Channel 4 News investigation follows recent revelations of historic sexual abuse at the world-renowned Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

Greater Manchester police said on Tuesday that investigations into that school were "ongoing".

The other school named is the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, and Surrey Police said they have been contacted about the allegations.

The allegations include claims the founding music director of the Surrey school sexually abused pupils as young as 10 in the 1960s.

Violinist, Nigel Kennedy, who was a pupil at the school at the time, told Channel 4 News he was "shook up and appalled" by the allegations.

chethams school

Chetham's School in Manchester has been under scrutiny over allegations of sexual abuse

The Menuhin School was founded in 1963 by Yehudi Menuhin with the help of his friend, the pianist Marcel Gazelle.

Channel 4 News said they received allegations that Gazelle, who performed and recorded with Mr Menuhin, sexually abused girls in the school's bedrooms.

Irita Kutchmy, who studied with Gazelle from the age of nine to twelve, told the broadcaster his behaviour had a "very detrimental" effect on her childhood.

She said: "I felt he was a very powerful person... I just remember feeling like I was sort of like his property, his pupil and therefore what he said went.

"It didn't appear to me to be weird that he came up to wake us up in the morning. It was just the way it was at the school... He would tickle me under the sheets... His hands were on my bare skin where they shouldn't be."

The programme has also spoken to two more women who claim Marcel Gazelle sexually abused them at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

One of them says she reported his behaviour to the school at the time and was told to avoid being on her own with him.

Mr Kennedy, who attended the school in the 1960s, told Channel 4 News: "I just know that Marcel Gazelle was a repeat offender and it wasn't a one off thing.

"It's a disgrace really that people's trust has been abused in such a way... The children themselves, their trust, the parents' trust, people's belief in music as being a pure form of art, [that] this whole ethos can be abused by one sick selfish person is very, very disturbing."

Marcel Gazelle died in 1969. His family said he was a good man and they were surprised by the allegations, which they dispute.

The Yehudi Menuhin School said it was "shocked and saddened to learn of the allegations."

The school told Channel 4 News: "We have checked the records which survive from 50 years ago and can find nothing about any concerns expressed at the time.

"In accordance with our policies we have reported these serious allegations to Surrey Police."

nigel kennedy

Nigel Kennedy was a pupil at the Menuhin School in the 1960s

Another woman who was a pupil at a music school in the 1990s told the programme her teacher flirted with her frequently, before making a pass at her after a lesson at his home.

She said: "I can remember it very vividly. The lesson was over, I was leaving. He then shut the blinds in the front room, which I thought - well you know, that's a very odd thing to do - why would he do that?

"And his words were, 'I'm going to kick myself if I don't do this' and proceeded to kiss me."

She said she lost her virginity to her teacher when she was just 17 years old.

At least three pupils at the same school say they were sexually involved with the same teacher, Channel 4 News reported.

The teacher no longer works at the school, though he continues to teach elsewhere, the programme said.

Responding to details of the programme's investigation, the music schools said the welfare of their pupils was their overriding priority and that where necessary they've contacted the police and the relevant authorities.

The schools said the majority of the allegations were historic, that recent allegations have been dealt with appropriately and that they have confidence in their safeguarding procedures, which they say are under constant review.

The three other schools were not named in the report for legal reasons.

The former music director at the prestigious Manchester school, Michael Brewer, was labelled ''a predatory sex offender'' and was sent to prison for six years earlier this year.

His victims included ex-pupil Frances Andrade, 48, who he groomed for sex from the age of 14 and who went on to take her life at her home in Guildford, Surrey, during his trial.

Surrey Police confirmed they have been contacted by the Yehudi Menuhin School following "allegations of historic sexual abuse against a member of staff who is now deceased".

A spokesman said: "The Force is liaising with the school and would encourage anyone with concerns to contact us.

"Surrey Police treats any allegation of this nature seriously and have officers who are specially trained to support victims of sexual assault."