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Daily Mail in full cry over return of sex-abuse conductor

Robert King was jailed in 2007 after being convicted for indecent assaults on five choir boys during the 1980s and 1990s.

He was sentenced to three years and nine months. Now he is back at the head of the King’s Consort. His group is performing in a series of Music in Country Churches, a charity headed by Prince Charles. The Mail has typically hit the outrage button.

Without prejudging, or rejudging, this particular case, could there be an argument to be made for rehabilitation?


robert king

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  1. Trumpetmaster says:

    He’s been working in Spain quite a lot (Madrid, Tenerife…) since 2012.

    • Lorenzo says:

      Yep. He has been working a lot in Spain. And no one bats an eye. Futhermore, Madrid’s Orquesta Nacional is featuring Mikhail Pletnev in their 2013-14 season. Fortunately most of the old Nazis living peacefully down on Spain’s Costa del Sol have passed away. No one in Spain seemed too bothered by them either.

      • Mathieu says:

        I do not get the innuendo about Pletnev. Charges against him were dropped.

        But who cares, right ?

        • Lorenzo says:

          Charges were apparently dropped on Pletnev because influential authorities from his govt. interceded. If you folIowed the case, you know the Thai police had evidence.

          I think Pletnev’s case is pretty typical of what happens with high profile pedophiles. [redacted]

  2. PK Miller says:

    It depends. If he is not prohibited from contact with children/teenagers there is, I suppose not much one can do. This is, as I have noted on SD, the modern day witch hunt, the crime against which there is almost no defense. You are “guilty,” forever. Does he have anything more than casual contact with minors in this position? If so, then such contact should be strictly supervised, for Mr. King’s own protection. Yes, of course, everyone is “innocent,” there are NO guilty people in prisons on your side of the “pond” or ours. But this is also, as I have also noted, the only crime except for murder, in which charges can be filed and a person convicted 30-40+ years after the alleged offense. I have noted herein before a local case where a now deceased man’s brother is pursuing claims of abuse from >65 years ago against long-deceased nuns who may not even have existed and a very different era when what we now would call “abuse” –sexual as well as physical was the norm.

  3. Esther Rantzen, the founder of the child protection charity Childline, said: ‘You have to ask if his crimes have been taken seriously enough.’
    ..and yet she didn’t take very seriously the very open secret at the BBC about Jimmy Savile’s industrial scale misdemeanour’s. Breathtaking hypocrisy.

  4. Rosalind says:

    I am all for rehabilitation, but in these kind of cases involving sexual abuse of children, I would consider it sensible and prudent for all concerned if the person involved no longer works with children or young adults.

    However, wouldn’t he have had to sign the Sex Offenders Register, which would control that anyway?

  5. Hasbeen says:

    Retribution ? YES ! He has paid his debt, served his time and now reentered society in a productive way.

  6. robcat2075 says:

    I dunno… would you re-hire a bank president after he had served a sentence for embezzlement? I suppose it’s happened.

    But is there really such a shortage of excellently qualified candidates for this kind of job that this was the best choice?

    • Which kind of job do you mean? Robert King founded The King’s Consort; it’s his group. (The person who was engaged to direct The King’s Consort while Robert King was incarcerated, Matthew Halls, created – or, rather, re-named – his group as the Retrospect Ensemble when King was released, giving King back the King’s Consort name.)

      Legally speaking, I would guess that King is considered self-employed.

      So the questions are really whether musicians want to play and sing for Robert King and whether presenters want to engage King and his group and funders want to fund it.

  7. His role leading the King’s Consort doesn’t involve working with children so there’s no imminent threat. The question seems to be, does he deserve to have a job that he’s qualified for and that brings him satisfaction. In the US, of course, we make it as difficult as humanly possible for released criminals to hold down good jobs. When the crime is child abuse or molestation, it’s harder still – for all intents and purposes, you are wearing a scarlet letter and there are entire cities and counties you can’t live or work in because you’re never a sufficient radius away from a school or playground.

    I believe the only way people can be rehabilitated is if they get a job, and find some kind of “normal” satisfaction as members of society. But does he deserve his job LESS because it’s relatively high profile and involves public praise and notoriety? Is it more appropriate for him to be a data entry guy at an insurance company, where nobody has to look at him or think about him?

    But the flip side is the case of Roman Polanski, whose fame and artistry has led a lot of people to absolve him of his crimes, or to deny they ever happened. I trust that wouldn’t be the case here, if this fellow has taken responsibility for what he did.

  8. Mark Stratford says:

    ===The Mail has typically hit the outrage button

    The article in this frightful newspaper includes a photo of Prince Charles, just in case we’d all forgotten what he looks like !

  9. David Boxwell says:

    Anything to get all their curtain-twitchers in high dudgeon.

    As for me, I’ll take my cue from professional musicians like Carolyn Sampson.

  10. Tim Walton says:

    Typical Daily Mail

    Robert King has served his sentence & is not working with children so he is doing nothing wrong. He has a legal right to rebuild his career & should be allowed to do so.

    An old friend of mine (we were at school together) was convicted of a similar offence (soon after the offence happened). He served his sentence & has rebuilt his career in classical music very successfully without a hint of trouble.

    Not everyone re-offends.

    People like Esther Rantzen are hypocrites & far too fond of their own voices. She & others of that ilk should give us all a break & keep their stupid mouths shut for a change.

  11. Frank Chalmers says:

    There certainly is a strong case for rehabilitation…that seems axiomatic. What is less clear is the issues of risk of harm and dangerousness, in the jargon. The length of his sentence has certain restrictions built in, and he surely would be on the sex offenders register too. Is he still under Probation supervision ? What are the support measures in place to make relapse less likely? For some high risk sex offenders they have “circles of support” to safeguard the community. But sex offending is typically a crime that is resistant to both rehabilitation and prevention of recidivism. Often the cases proved are not the only instances…I hope there are cast iron measures in place to prevent any relapse for everyone’s sake…..but it’s often just not there.

  12. The way that musicians with a proven track record and good social connections are appointed to some positions would be something completely alien to the comprehension of the average person, simply because they do not work in that mileu. The law (coupled with the prevailing attitude of press and public opinion) effectively ensures that the majority of such offenders are so stigmatized (even after they have pleaded guilty and served a full prison term) that they will never be able to work again in their chosen professions – which is reassuring – if that profession has involved involved working with minors. There is also the issue of professional ethics and breach of trust as well as the criminality of the abuse. Because of the ethics & trust issue many professionals would find themselves ‘struck-off’ by their ruling bodies, regardless of having served a penal sentance. Society takes some vengeful comfort in that these offences normally destroy careers as well as everything else. Most ex-offenders have to struggle to the job centre with everyone else. Presumably someone, who clearly rates Mr King’s work and unique personal qualities very highly, has kindly offered him an opportunity to once again do the the thing he does best. From the sound of it there should be no day-to-day contact with minors, so this should be no more contentious than any other appointment. (I trust he would not be allowed to teach, though.) Societal perception will, however, be that vengeance has been short-changed – so cue the Daily Mail! I’m sure the many law-abiding conductors who could also have taken the job on, will retain a dignified silence, rather than joining a typical tabloid witch hunt.

  13. Malcolm James says:

    Although it in no way excuses what he did, the judge in the trial noted that King had some years previously stopped offending of his own volition, which makes it seem rather less likely that he now poses a threat.

  14. David Foulger says:

    Yet again one has to say,” Let him who is without fault cast the first stone “

  15. Robt. Switzer says:

    Cases of child sex offenders who do not re-offend are extremely rare. It doesn’t matter whether a sexual attraction to children is innate or learned, the psychological damage suffered by victims is extreme. I do not dispute that once an offender has paid his debt to society, he should be allowed to seek gainful employment. With that said, I’m truly shocked that anyone would think that Mr. King should be allowed to work again unsupervised, especially in a career where it is reasonably foreseeable that he’ll come into contact with minors. While I don’t like the shock-value approach many tabloids use to sell papers, the Daily Mail in this case actually has a valid point that’s been obscured by its ranting: adults who have committed sexual offenses against children are likely to do so again, even after prison and therapy. It’s a sad fact, and for anyone to say that only those who are without sin may protest is to ignore decades of psychological research on the subject.

    • I’m sorry but I cannot let this go:

      “Cases of child sex offenders who do not re-offend are extremely rare”

      That is empirically not true. Can you back up this statistic with data? Evidence points to the fact that sex offenders have the lowest rate of recedivism. It’s around 5.3% according to a study conducted by the US dept of Justice. The only crime with a lower recedivism rate is murder.

      In actual fact, the evidence suggests that child sex offenders who go on to reoffend are the rare bread. Not the other way around. Spewing eye catching sound bites that do little but re enforce blind morla panic and trashy tabloid journaslism is dangerous and hysterical.

      • Timon Wapenaar says:

        Well, it all depends on which figures you use. Official figures tend to understate the numbers. Unofficial figures are almost 2.5 times higher. Adrian Powell, in his book “Paedophiles, child abuse, and the Internet” has the reoffending rate at 90%, and asserts that paedophilia becomes a compulsion. I wouldn’t trust the US Dept. of Justice with blowing out the candles during a monsoon.

        • I accept that. There will be a variance depending on the study and how it was conducted. However, the stats the UK Governement use put it as low as 1 in 20. It could be higher. What irks me is that there is no data or otherwise anywhere that suggests all sex offenders will reoffend. That is simply not true.

  16. Lorenzo says:

    Personally I have to say that I think Robert King, who’s endured public shame and has served his time, has a lot more integrity than any of the other pedophiles in high places in the music business.

    Pletnev was caught red-handed, for heaven’s sake. His govt. got him off. His career carries on like nothing happened at all. Another prominent US conductor, exiled to Europe for a decade, was too clever to be caught and evidently had really good lawyers. He has never been punished although one might say karma’s come back to haunt him career wise.

    I have a healthy respect for Mr. King, his honesty, what he’s been thru and his desire to continue his career. Should he be around children now? Of course not. But he can have a fine and fruitful career without coming
    in contact with any temptations.

    • Tim Walton says:

      Well said. A sensible comment at last.

    • Heartily agree with you, Lorenzo. Robert has served the sentence which was passed down to him by the judiciary, on behalf of society, all of society, even the vengeful and ill-informed readers of the Mail on Sunday. He served his term, repaid his debt to society and I am convinced he should be allowed and encouraged even to continue his career. He does not work with minors. His performers are all adults. He is a dynamic entrepreneurial and refined musician who provides opportunities for many players and singers of many nationalities, scrupulously honest in his financial dealings with his musicians (unlike many in similar positions) and his academic flair enables him to work with and speak of music at the highest performance level. And it for this reason that I and many other performers are proud to continue to perform with him.

    • Mathieu says:

      Again with Pletnev. I am not a particular fan of his, and I really do not know wether he enjoys having sex with 14 year old boys. If he does, I disapprove. But I know he has been cleared of all charges made against him. Unless you have some piece of evidence you would like to introduce, I would urge you to refrain from making libellous statements.

      • Lorenzo says:


        This is the 1st thing that came up when I googled the story.

        I don’t have time to go back & provide for you everything that was reported about the incident, but I really think it’s a lot more likely there was evidence which was dismissed or not presented about Pletnev
        the sake of political relations which led to the charges being dropped than it is that the whole incident was simply fabricated with no clear motive.

        Just because charges were dropped does not mean he is innocent. It would have been an unspeakable disaster for the Russian govt. if Pletnev had indeed been convicted. They fixed it to save face. Just as the other pedophile conductor I mentioned left the US for a decade to avoid charges.

        • “Just because charges were dropped does not mean he is innocent”…

          and just because you are unhappy with the verdict doesn’t mean he is guilty.

          • Mark,

            I am neither unhappy or happy with the verdict. I have no stake in the situation. I am not pro or con Pletnev. I have no personal interest in the prosecution of pedophiles.

            I was simply following the Pletnev case & saw that clear evidence had been presented that he was involved in pedophilia. I was amazed when the charges were mysteriously dropped.

            I also think it’s wrong when someone like Robert King is publicly condemned and honestly serves time for his alleged offenses (I believe his defense would have liked to see charges dropped, too) while Mikhail Pletnev, accused of the same type of crime with evidence to prove it, waltzes away scot free, simply because his government intervened to protect him and Robert King’s did not.

  17. michael Turner says:

    Bravo Jumbo (David if you prefer), I heartily agree with you. Why shouldn’t Robert resume his career? It’s not as if he is applying to work with children. He’s just doing what he has always done extremely well: making music to a very high standard.

    Besides, let’s be perfectly honest: there are one or two very high-profile names out in the music business, who I couldn’t possibly name here for legal reasons, who have got away with this sort of thing for decades. Robert didn’t. But he has done his time, and should be allowed to return. But he may have to get inured to the odd catcall at concerts, and the occasional harrumph from tabloids.

    • “there are one or two very high-profile names out in the music business..” sounds like a very cautious estimate!

  18. Prewartreasure says:

    “……..could there be an argument to be made for rehabilitation………?

    Given the apparent support this vile creature has received on this blog alone is cause for deep concern.


    The ritual stoning of Robert King in the Daily Mail and now in Slipped Disc of all places is a bit much. At least in his local newspaper Robert King had the opportunity to get a word in edgewise, and his words make sense.

    Meanwhile we still see the Mephisto-esque smirk of Tony Blair in the British media, accompanying his warmongering talk which has filled his bank-account to overflow and in the process cost many thousands of lives of innocent children and orphaned many more. While Blair gets columns of unquestioning support to bang on for more bloodshed in Egypt and Syria and escapes trial for war crimes, the Mail finds space to have a go at Robert King who has served his sentence as passed down to him by the judiciary. This is a sick world with very little sense of proportion.

  20. Luciano says:

    He shouldn’t be denied the right to perform, and in so doing, attempt to rehabilitate his career. Having said that, his career will never be what it once was, and rightly so. He was convicted of an awful crime that cannot be undone, and if memory serves me correctly, pleaded not guilty at the time, but has not disputed his guilt since (please correct me if I am mistaken). I was amazed when he was charged how many people in the UK music scene defended him, the most often heard phrase being, ‘Oh, but it was such a long time ago’. It seems that, regrettably, this behaviour is still tolerated in some circles.

  21. carolineredbrook says:

    We must stop accused pedophiles/ child molesters like Sylvain Kustyan, Ariel Castro and Jimmy Savile BEFORE they prey upon our children for years. Castro and Savile are now out of the picture, but Kustyan (who has been formally charged with two counts each of 1st Degree Sodomy and Sexual Abuse fled to avoid imminent arrest. Kustyan, formerly of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Hermin/Mazingarbe, France is currently a fugitive from the law., as a teacher led numerous school groups on trips to the UK, Ireland and the US. It is possible that abuse occurred in any of those places Since the average pedophile has 300 different victims in their lifetime and since the recidivism rate among pedophiles is virtually 100% they must be stopped ASAP. Former victims can help save others by coming forward and sharing their stories.

    • carolineredbrook says:

      The name above should read: accused pedophiles/ child molesters like Sylvain Kustyan. With studies showing that the recidivism rate among pedophiles is virutally 100%, it is irresponsible of the author of the article to speak of “rehabilitation”. There is no known cure, nor effective treatment for pedophilia.

  22. Provocateur says:

    With all this talk about recidivism, witch hunts, and rehabilitation, shouldn’t we also think about human nature and the meaning of the word “choice”? There are some who the law has judged to have no choice regarding their actions due to mental illness and who are locked up because they have no control over their choices.

    But there are those such as King who have made the conscious decision to do something wrong, whilst in full control of their faculties, and have paid the price for succumbing to their particular temptations. Everyone faces temptations of some kind, whether its harming themselves (self-indulgence, alcohol, overwork, etc), or harming others (anger, violence, manipulation, etc). Every person of sound mind learns from experience that it is possible to control impulses. The carrot and the stick can help in learning to make choices.

    In this sense is there not a wider issue here (particularly regarding the witch hunt), of trying to lay a foundation for the future where the stick is brought into play to ensure that people of sound mind make the right choices? And in order to do this surely the corollary carrot is necessary: that people who make the right choices and mend their ways can be accepted (otherwise there is less incentive to make the right choices)?

  23. There are lots of posts here urging forgiveness and rehabilitation for Robert King. I don’t have a problem with that, necessarily, but want to know how many people here would express the same generosity if it was a dodgy-looking caretaker at their local school who had sexually assaulted five boys, or someone shifty-looking who hung around the park?

    Are ‘great musicians’ somehow in a class of their own, redeemed from other wrong-doing because of the nature of their art? :(

    • It is unjust and crass to draw a comparison between Robert King and a dodgy-looking school caretaker, or someone hanging around in a park. Those of us who know and work with Robert know this is inappropriate. I worked regularly alongside a sexual predator for many years and did my best to mind my own business. We do not work together any more, partly because he showed unreciprocated interest in my son. So I do have some experience of coping with such situations.

      Ann Widdecombe has contributed a very good article in the Express

      • Ian Pace says:

        I do not see why it is ‘unjust and crass’ to make such comparisons, if the offences are the same. How much di those who know and work with King know about those offences prior to the trial?

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      That goes without saying. Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl and Hollywood has fallen over itself to get him off the hook: “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.” – Whoopi Goldberg. “I really don’t give a fuck. Look am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s being taken advantage of?” – Gore Vidal. Why? Because he’s an Artist.

  24. Robert King is not working with the vulnerable groups of people that he confessed to offending.

    He has undergone rehabilitation during his time “inside”.

    Now he is back in the community shouldn’t he be allowed to earn a living?

    Provided adequate protection is being made for boys and young men, why should he not perform as a conductor.

    There are times when “out-rage” goes too far. Whatever happened to the rehabilitation of offenders. Sure his crimes were abhorrent, and I would not condone him taking up a teaching job, but this is different.

  25. Mark Mortimer says:

    I do not know Robert King personally. However, I do possess some of his recordings and in Baroque music he is exemplary.

    However, this does not excuse his shameful conduct off the podium. How do those youngsters, now adults, whom he abused and probably left scared for life, feel about him renewing an international conducting career. Not great I should imagine.

    It is simply not acceptable to claim that he’s done his time and now everything’s hunky-dory and we can move on. Clearly, he’s a talented musician with much to give the classical world, but concert promoters should be aware of providing him too many opportunities, setting a bad precedent in a business currently rife with abuse allegations.

    It is well known in the US (less so in the UK) that one of the world’s most famous conductors is a paedophile, who has been arrested on more than one occasion for his prediliction for sex with under age boys. I can only imagine that his career has been kept going by both his prodigious ability and a good team of lawyers . Norman has written about this individual on numerous occasions without naming him for obvious reasons.

    The tragic Fran Andrade case has had one positive outcome. It has brought abuse in Classical Music right to the surface. Yes, any criminal deserves rehabilitation but surely not the chance of resuming a glittering career as if nothing happened. this is the point.

  26. As a survivor of such crimes I would simply like to point out that it is unjust to a. critisize the absence of a statute of limitations on such crimes as, speaking from experiance, it can take decades to process abuse and to reach a point of clarity such as permits you to take legal action. In my own case the abuser is long dead and so i will never have closure through legal channels. b. one cannot simply “do the time” and be forgiven, with no judgment on this particular case as i am not in possession of all the facts, unless an abuser undergoes some form of intensive therapy they will, i believe, always be a risk to children.

  27. It is interesting that, amid all the above cacophany, no one has mentioned that perhaps RK is under supervision by virtue of having a wife and child – a child that had to get used to the fact its father was in prison for about two years, and a wife who stood by him all through his trial and incarceration. She just happens to be the General Manager of and run the Kings Consort, therefore being very close both privately and professionally to RK.

    My personal feelings about RK I will not disclose, as they are in this case and discussion rather irrelevant. But I nevertheless believe that he was already a reformed personality long before the cases came to court. Now he has done his time and paid the debt to society sentenced on him, and is undoubtedly under certain legal conditions in respect of working with minors (in fact he does not employ or work with minors at all). Indeed, I have to pay a certain amount of respect to the way he has managed to rebuild his career (and I can well believe that it has not been easy for many obvious reasons, and other perhaps not so obvious reasons to those outside the practising UK music profession) and renew the Kings Consort in the way he has. He has every right to be allowed and encouraged to serve society as a rehabilitated person through the work he knows and loves best, making music!

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