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Another ex-teacher at Chetham’s is arrested

Greater Manchester Police have arrested a man of 65 as part of its investigation in sexual abuse allegations at Chetham’s school of music in the 1970s and 1980s.

The man, a former teacher, was questioned about an assault on a girl of 15. He was released on bail and his identity was withheld.

GMP say they are looking at ten key suspects in allegations by 30 women.

The case arises from the conviction of Michael Brewer, a former head of music at Chetham’s, and the suicide of his victim, Frances Andrade.

frances andrade

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Comments

  1. Rosana Martins says:

    What is happening in the Music Schools in the UK? An epidemic? Are such barbarities also happening elsewhere?

    • Graham Lyons says:

      The barbarities of a witch hunt.

      • Not that old chestnut!

      • Martin Roscoe says:

        Yes Graham Lyons, how inconvenient and tiresome for abuse victims to try to get justice years after the event. No doubt you think they should just keep quiet and be miserable without troubling anyone.

      • Graham Lyons, do you then think that’ ‘indecent assault and attemped buggery’ (just to use the definition provided by the police) committed by someone in their late 20s/early 30s against a girl of 15 is less of a barbarity (if, of course, found to be true in a court) than attempting to bring the perpetrator to justice?

    • Unfortunately, this happens at private schools and boarding schools with some (though not great) frequency. There was recently a huge scandal in the US regarding such behavior back in the 70s and 80s at one of the country’s most notable boarding schools. It’s possible that there can be an atmosphere at a school that encourages this behavior indirectly, which certainly seems to be the case here. But who knows.

      • Rosana Martins says:

        It amazes me to read Tomas2 statement that “It’s possible that there can be an atmosphere at a school that encourages this behavior indirectly”!!! Having minors in one’s care should encourage a feeling of protection and nothing else. People who abuse children belong behind bars, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

    • Yes, it is happening in many countries. Some are just more honest about reporting the situation. The UK’s work in this regard should be taken as a model for other countries. In Germany, Prof. Dr. Freia Hoffmann recently published a book about the sexual harassment and exploitation of music students. See:

      http://www.amazon.de/Panische-Gef%C3%BChle-Sexuelle-%C3%9Cbergriffe-Instrumentalunterricht/dp/379570538X

      The Neuen Musikzeitung hosted a panel discussion about the problems, which can be listened to here:

      http://www.nmz.de/taktlos/2006/takt99.shtml

      And the FrauenMusikForum in Switzerland published an astounding study about the sexual exploitation of school age children studying music. (The title is “Sexuelle Belästigung im Musikunterricht.”) The percentage of young students affected was very high.

      Many American universities and conservatories are working hard to eliminate this problem at the college level. See, for example, this policy statement from the Curtis Institute:

      http://www.curtis.edu/students/policies-procedures/student-life-policies/sexual-harassment/

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        A comment on the Curtis policies:

        Published policies of any institution evolve as the needs of the community (students, alumni, faculty, parents and staff) change over time. Curtis opened a new building in September 2011 which includes a dormitory for about 50% (80 students) of the student body (c.165), the first such facility run directly by the school since it opened in 1924, The detailed sexual harassment policies quoted by Mr. Osborne from the Curtis website (www.curtis.edu) are similar to those at other US conservatories and university-related music schools, most with school-sponsored living accommodations for students at the post-secondary level. One can assume that these policies are reactive and proactive and will continue to evolve according to changes within the community. Where are the UK music specialist high schools in this evolutionary process? The answer is not clear to me.

        • As far as I can tell, Bob, they are all over the spectrum – from alert and progressive, to head-in-the-sand.

        • It’s true, policy statements like at Curtis have long been a norm at most universities. (I mentioned Curtis since it was specifically discussed in a previous blog on this site.) One should note that in most schools these policies are generally not specifically related to dormitory facilities — though they apply there as well.

          • The policy at Curtis and its central focus is stated very clearly: “Curtis policy prohibits faculty and staff members from engaging in sexual or romantic relationships with students.”

          • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

            Agreed, but the new dorm was the trigger for this very explicit upgrading of existing policies.

          • Thanks for the info. Because if its small size and unique organizational structure, Curtis has by necessity faced special difficulties with these concerns. I think that in recent years it has done an excellent job in designing policies that protect the students.

  2. Fellow musician says:

    Key word “ex”. This is all 20-30 year ago? It does not reflect on the school now.

    • Presumably all the musicians who studied at the school 20-30 years ago and have gone on to be successful do not reflect on the school now either, then? And Chet’s should remove all of their names from their publicity?

      Actually, if the school were to change its name, make clear that it truly is a different institution from the past, and draw a line under *all* of its history – whether positive or negative – then it might stand a good chance of being able to move on. But if it takes credit for some of its alumni, and invites them to play or conduct at celebratory events for the school, then it needs to take responsibility for other alumni as well.

  3. Norman darling, that is right, an EX-Chets teacher…

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      It’s not about Chets, it’s about the pederasts who taught there. Chets is just a building.

      • Exactly, so all the bad naming Chets is unnecessary

        • Jacob Lund says:

          Please come up to speed, or stay quiet. There are ongoing police investigations into alleged crimes committed very recently at Chetham’s. There is also hard evidence that the school’s safeguarding of pupils is very poor even now, and that there is a serious problem with the culture that exists in specialist music schools. Have some respect for the victims: don’t you think they’ve gone through enough?

          • Julian Dodd says:

            *One* current teacher at Chet’s is under investigation by the police. We do not know much about the details of these investigations, and it would be both irresponsible and foolish to speculate. All other police investigations into current teachers have been abandoned, the police concluding that these other teachers have no case to answer. This is one reason why it is wrong to smear Chet’s now with the appalling crimes committed when Michael Brewer was in post.

            I make this point whilst having the *utmost* respect for the victims of the crimes committed at the school in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m a father and a teacher. It is shameful to claim that those who defend the school now do not care for those children who were abused then.

          • Julian, despite imploring others not to ‘speculate’ you appear to have made your mind up that there is nothing wrong with the school. It is a fact, not speculation that a current member of staff is still being investigated. It is also fact that and that other current teachers have been investigated, that yet more past teachers are being investigated and that current safeguarding has been criticised in two reports. No speculation needed. It does seem odd to be so indignant that anyone should mention these facts and see them as cause for concern and worthy of mention and consideration. I don’t know if you are aware, Julian Dodd, Person et al but there are people involved with the school now who were there in the eighties too, such as some of the governors for example, people involved with employing Layfield. Many people, pupils, parents and teachers among them, are also very disappointed with how current management have dealt with the appalling number and nature of abuse allegations that have emerged in recent months.

        • Oh dear. Point missed again.

        • Martin Roscoe says:

          So, “Person (who is afraid to be identified)”, should the school just be described as ” a specialist music school” when reporting these matters. Everyone knows …

      • The physical school is just a building, the management and other administration of the school is not, nor the governing body past and present. No school could be run with just a building and a group of teachers alone who do nothing other than teach. The institution bears a good deal of responsibility for allowing what appears to be a very wide range of abusive behaviour to occur, with few consequences for teachers acting in such a way.

    • Yes, by all means, the most important thing here is to protect the institution that enabled the behavior.

      • Stephen Lamb says:

        No it is not. The most important thing is to protect the current, future and former pupils of the school from exploitation. The management of the school seems to have been incapable of doing this – and still seems not to understand the gravity of the issue.

        • I totally agree Stephen as do many others. I suspect Tomas2 would too. I read his comment as sarcasm, though it is hard to tell these days. There seem to be so many people around this with such shockingly unenlightened views. Thankfully there are also many others like yourself who do realise the gravity of the situation as you may or may not know. Not all of them want to wade in here but I believe they are by far the majority. You are not alone.

  4. Theodore McGuiver says:

    …meaning that the phenomenon is now apparently so commonplace that the name of the institution is pretty much irrelevant. What is it about music tuition that attracts/encourages/protects this kind of behaviour?

    • There may be general systemic problems to tackle and there probably is need for better safeguards, policies etc. They have also been an insular, besieged and interlinked group of establishments though. They appear to be linked both to each other and to their own pasts – e.g. ex-pupils becoming teachers, spouses and family members of existing staff being recruited as staff and some staff being there for decades or moving between establishments over decades). This incestuous environment seems to have been infiltrated by abusers, their colluders and enablers and those unconcerned about abuse and to have cultivated these practices and attitudes as well as excluding or silencing those that would question this. A culture of abuse, collusion and cover up has evolved.

    • Prewartreasure says:

      As my old mother used to say (Theodore) if you can work out the answer for yourself, don’t sound stupid asking the question.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        My second comment completed my first. Since the two got split up with other readers’ posts neither made sufficient sense. My point was that, in the light of recent events, the name Chethams could be pretty much interchangeable with any old music school, so widespread appears to be the appallingly abuse of confidence in all its forms by certain members of the respective teaching staffs.

  5. Abigail Clifford says:

    A Witchhunt ?

    Is there not a danger with all this retrospective legal action that y can totally fabricate a story about x just because. x and y had a fling 35 years ago.
    Meanwhile X has become successful and y is past their sell by date and not doing desperately well professionally. Here is Y’s opportunity to stick the knife in on X. The climate post Jimmy Saville is just right for this.
    Surely with so many years having gone by it simply becomes x’s word against y’s?

    • Michael Haslam says:

      And the court will hear the evidence and the jury will decide if X is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, Abigail.It’s called justice. Not perfect but the best we have.

    • Abigail, the police don’t prosecute if the evidence isn’t strong enough. For example in the case of Fran Andrade, other pupils were able to testify that they had been assaulted etc. There was corroboration. Of course it’s possible that someone could fabricate an allegation. The risk of this happening, and particularly winding up in a conviction, is absolutely miniscule compared to the risk of sexual abuse having happened and no conviction or even trial ever happening. Think about the Saville case and other similar cases….many unrelated victims offering similar evidence and perhaps witnesses too and other corroborating evidence: Compelling evidence. Think of how gruelling and life-altering it is to go through a trial as a victim, to the extent that in Fran’s case it drove her to suicide….how many people would go through this when they weren’t actually a victim at all? Use some common sense. I never cease to be amazed that this would become the main focus of concern for some people to the exclusion of myriad more obvious, present and immediate issues of concern. Why? To my mind it is misguided, out of proportion and dubious to say the least. Shame that any of this even needs to be said really, but it seems that it does.

    • Devadahling says:

      agreed Abgail…… Seems to me that some are being made to suffer due to the atrocities of the many ‘victims’ and actual ‘perpetrators’.

  6. It is striking, and alarming, to see how many people continue to prioritise the reputation of institutions over the welfare of those who study there. Shame on them.

    • I think the proliferation of such attitudes, unashamedly and angrily voiced, probably illustrates how sick the culture of music schools has become, how they could have continued to be so and how they are in danger of continuing to be in the future if the same people stay involved and nothing is done.

  7. I posted this on another thread but reading the appalling remarks above, made by people who would rather see these crimes pass un-noticed, felt I should post them again. I thought the comment by the judge, summing up Michael Brewer’s derisory failed attempt to have his sentence reduced, show that the legal system is taking these matters very seriously. “… It seems to us that he escaped justice for a very long time indeed and that justice has now caught up with him.”

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