Grammy winning conductor is charged with sex offences

Grammy winning conductor is charged with sex offences


norman lebrecht

September 10, 2014

For ten years, he was conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra chorus and assistant to Sir Colin Davis on tour. He collected two Grammys for his work with the LSO Chorus and appeared as conductor in his own right with several leading British orchestras.

Last Friday, Joseph Cullen was arrested in Glasgow and charged with two counts of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices. The nature of the offences was not specified and no plea was entered when he appeared in court in Glasgow on Monday.

joseph cullen

Among other successes and distinctions cited on his website, Joseph Cullen has been director of the Huddersfield Choral Society since 1999, is an outstanding organist and is working with a Vatican institute in Rome to improve liturgical music in the Roman Catholic Church in the UK.

joseph cullen2

Caution: Presumptions of innocence apply until after the trial.


  • Worried Observer says:

    Let us hope The Huddersfield Choral Society consider immediate dismissal from Cullens post as their current Conductor in view of these charges……..

  • The Omniscient Mussel says:

    Let us hope the Huddersfield Choral Society doesn’t make any kneejerk decisions until any actual guilt has been appropriately proven.

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      Worried Observer needs his head felt!!! There are laws in the UK, and it would be very amiss if Huddersfield CS listened to worried observers like the one above until his guilt was proven in court.

  • James Morgan says:

    In this country people are innocent until proven guilty – in theory, anyway; people in Mr Cullen’s position also face trial by social media which has no such constraints.

    I think it would be most unjust if anyone prejudged someone who is -by law-innocent of any wrongdoing unless proved otherwise in court.

  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    Innocent until proven guilty. Any person who has made an accusation must also be named.

    • Hector's Ghost says:

      Thank you for reminding us exactly why so many recent high-profile cases like this have taken years to come to court (if ever) as the victims never expect to be believed because of the supposed ‘high status and influence’ of the perpetrators.

    • The specific wording of the charges indicates a minor is involved. That would be a reason to not name an accuser.

      “Section 6 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation)(Scotland) Act 1995 makes it an offence to show any lewd, indecent or libidinous behaviour towards a girl who is between the age of 12 and 16.”

      So say the always-reliable Wikipedia.

      • Peter says:

        Just because you found some matching words online, that doesn’t indicate what the allegation is. Furthermore, the ‘always reliable’ Wikipedia has not told you that Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1995, which you quote, was repealed 1st December 2010 and replaced by the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

        As in all such matters, best not to speculate and best to rely only on actual and real information related to the specific case.

        • The new law seems to rename the old crimes and alter the wording to be gender and orientation neutral so that now the law applies to acts with either girls and boys instead of just girls.

  • David Cowlishaw says:

    How right you are. Innocent till proven guilty.

  • vs says:

    Joseph Cullen is a fine caring man, an outstanding musician and a personal friend of over thirty years standing who is not and could never be guilty of these charges. I would trust him with my life and have always done so with my children. He is entirely innocent of this vacuous claim, the court will throw it out but the emotional and financial effects of the unofficial trial by media and your idiotic speculation and comments will be with him for ever.

    • KG says:

      Not sure you can call yourself such a friend when you mention trust with your children when in fact nothing has been published in the press mentioning the charges relating to children. You have publicly made the connection online – seemingly unable to preserve the dignity of your friend. Well done.

      • VS says:

        I have made no reference to charges relating to children, not least because I am not aware of any. Your sarcasm does you no credit

    • yet another conductor says:

      “your idiotic speculation and comments will be with him for ever” – IF.. he is found to be innocent….. and if he is found guilty….what about the victims?? when will it be over for them?

      • VS says:

        I have no doubt that Mr Cullen is the only victim here, and yes, it will live with him forever

        • another conductor says:

          who are you trying to convince? lets just hope the truth is revealed and justice is served.

        • Aloysius Loyola Gonzaga Xavier Ogilvie says:

          I wonder what your thoughts are now that Joseph Cullen has pleaded guilty to the charges. While I respect your attitude that an accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty, I must say that his guilty plea comes as no surprise to me. I was in the same secondary class as this fellow and I can honestly say that from day one in first year the entire class regarded him as suspect, to put it mildly.
          Although I had absolutely no contact with him after I left school in 1978, when someone asked me today if I had heard about Joe Cullen, my first guess was bang on the money.
          It seems remarkable to me that dozens of eleven year-olds could accurately assess Cullen’s character within minutes of meeting him while you detected nothing untoward in over thirty years of close friendship with him. Perhaps his character underwent a miraculous transformation after he’d worked these abuses out of his system or perhaps he struggled heroically to curb his perverted impulses and proceeded to live a blameless life from 1982 onwards. I’d be very surprised if that turned out to be the case though.
          If other allegations now emerge in the wake of his convictions, I hope you will be less willing to stake your life on his innocence.

          • Kapiyata Ghat says:

            Yikes. However someone turns out it strikes me as crazy that you can claim to have had such insight as an eleven year old. ‘Suspect’ is a rather generalised term for a prediction that a child will turn out to be an abuser. I would suggest that posts such as this help no one.

  • Na says:

    This man is one of the most morally correct persons I have ever met. I have no doubt at all that he hasn’t commuted this crime. What the press haven’t reported is that in Scotland they don’t have to have a case against you to arrest you purely allegations. Not everybody knows this.

    • Kapiyata Ghat says:

      Oops. You spoke to soon. Perhaps you’ll think carefully before making such bold public statements in the near future. I guess this has neither helped the victim or the perpetrator.

  • Another musician says:

    Clearly an allegation of child abuse which must always be taken seriously. Children in our society are so vulnerable to men working alone and with too much power, particularly spending lots of time alone with teachers and musicians. We must stand tall and condemn these acts.

  • Rhen says:

    He’s out. What a short punishment.

    • Geoff says:

      Yes, he is out. However, be assured that the British Justice System and Social Services do not treat sex offenders lightly. In many ways I suspect prison is the easy bit. His sentence is for life! If you doubt this, read some of the vitriolic and uninformed comments on this site relating to Mr Cullen and you will see the mountain he has to climb. My view; the judicial system decides what is a criminal act and whether someone is guilty of an offence. That same system also decides a suitable sentence. If we accept the former we should accept the latter, otherwise anarchy reigns.
      Put simply, Mr Cullen was found guilty of a sex offence and he is serving his sentence. He and his family need time to build their shattered lives. And yes, our hearts go out to the victims and we can only hope they are getting the help and support they need.
      As for those posting information about Mr Cullens family, please can you not do this behind the cloak of anonymity. If you have something to say, be prepared to do it in the open. “In Sparta everyone, even a kings messenger, is responsible for the words of their voice.”