Falsely accused professor cannot bear to hear music

The former Manchester violin teacher Wen Zhou Li has been speaking about his three-year ordeal after being accused of sexual offences by a former student. The charges were dropped three weeks ago, but Zhou Li was threatened with having his children taken away.

He says: “It was a feeling like the end of the world. I can now understand why people kill themselves.”

Full story here.

wen zhou li


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  • This case is so desperately sad. I extend my sympathy to Wen Zhou Li and my hope that he will return eventually to teaching .

    I do believe the entire issue of alleged molestation of pupils by teachers needs further research and further consideration, not merely by the justice system but also by society as a whole. We are now beginning to realise there have been far too many cases of molestation of one type or another. Those who are guilty of such a crime deserve the fullest punishment the law permits. Yet as the article points out, once accused publicly of molestation of a minor or a pupil, no matter how innocent, it is all but impossible to get rid of that label hanging around your neck – “child molester”! The media thrive on sensationalism. When the legal system gets it wrong, the result is usually in a small inside paragraph if it even merits a mention. And for a case to drag on for years only deepens the injustice.

    I cannot imagine how he felt when his pre-teen children were taken from him and, when returned, he could not hug and hold them as parents should without another being present. What long-term damage might these three years have caused those innocent souls?

    Predators lurk in many walks of life, as they do on the internet. Their intended prey must be protected in every way. Yet, we know too that youngsters can play pranks as their minds develop – for any number of reasons. The young lady in this case appears to have enjoyed entrapping her teachers. Yet, I have to use the word “appeared” even though Mr. Wen has not been declared “Not Guilty” for the ‘evidence’ is only circumstantial. The judge declared he could hold his head high with no stain on his character. Did he really believe that is now possible?

    The pupil’s reasons will probably never be known. The effect on Mr. Wen will remain with him for the rest of his life. Is this a price society has to accept?

    • Very well put. Some of the alleged “victims” in cases of this kind could well be qualified as predators too. You are alone with your teacher in the room, you walk out and you are free to make up anything you like, and the law will usually be on your side. You want revenge, you get it, you want some money, you get that too.

    • Apologies. In the 4th line of the penultimate paragraph of my earlier post, the first “not” should be “now”.

  • …and may I also add that the sensationlist tabloid reporting methods all too often employed by this blog in similar cases do not help either!

  • The name of the person who made the false accusation hasn’t been released as far as I can tell. Not very even handed.

    • It is a horrible story, and it only ended (last month) because the court learned the accuser had accused another teacher in another country — otherwise his nightmare would be continuing.

    • I imagine all Mr. Wen wants is to put this very sad episode far behind him. Yet others in a similar position might want to exact some retribution from the pupil. Would it be possible to take some form of legal action against her, given that Mr. Wen has been officially found “Not Guilty”?

  • The case was thrown out “because the court learned the accuser had accused another teacher in another country”.

    This accuser is free to destroy the lives of many more innocent people – after all, we have no idea who she is. The court should publish the name of his accuser, if only to prevent future accusations.

    • I quite agree.
      It was the same thing with Operation Midland in which Gen. Bramall, Leon Brittan, Harvey Proctor and others were accused of terrible crimes all on the say so of a certain ‘Nick’ who the police took completely seriously for a long time, despite there being no evidence for any of the crimes and Nick’s family telling the police that he was a fantasist.
      The accused have had their lives ruined and meanwhile ‘Nick’ keeps his anonymity. (There is talk of ‘Nick’ being had up for wasting police time – I hope this comes to something).

  • When I think of what sort of aggressive treatment defence lawyers apply to rape plaintiffs in court — in cases where the lawyer is ethical after a LOT of research and investigation — I think the same rigour ought to be applied to plaintiffs in molestation accusations (where the accusation often stops short of rape). The mud that sticks to the accused is for life. A lying accuser — and there are an increasing number of them, it seems, perhaps because of confused sexual mores, as in the Jian Ghomesho case in Canada, where the plaintiffs were generally believed to be telling the truth but were undermined by complex relationships with their accused abuser) — can walk away unscathed, and in the case of some of these weird young people, on a power trip.

    Professors I know are afraid to interview a female student in their offices without a witness, which is deleterious to the relationship of teacher and student and deprives female scholars of the kind of one-on-one attention still being given to make students (though that will no doubt come under the glass in some forthcoming case). My views of how this sort of thing, which always happened, has become a pandemic would seem old-fashioned to most. But the tilt in the power relationship between students and teachers has a lot to do with it.

  • It’s too bad we live in a society where accusations are just as damaging as having been found guilty of them. Such power should come with accountability.

  • I find this story appalling. Why on earth in a western democracy does it take years to get this resolved? I feel so sad for him AND his wife & kids. And a loss to the musical world. Agree with others, the nameless person disappears off to do it again.

    • I’ll bet the German chamber music guy languishing in New York is wondering the same thing. The answer to some extent lies in overcrowded courts, an underfunded justice system, etc. And there are perhaps some other issues in human rights, privacy laws and other such things that factor into cases. Some of which have been abused abjectly.

      • The longer a case drags on, the higher the legal bills, so the corrupt lawyers are not about to let anyone like that German chap out of their clutches anytime soon.

  • I don’t know all the details, but it is certainly possible that one person is targeted by multiple abusers, so the fact it happened to her before, on its own, wouldn’t/shouldn’t mean it didn’t happen again. What needs to happen in all these situations is CCTV in the room during the lesson!!

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