Polish-born pianist flees UK rape trial

Polish-born pianist flees UK rape trial


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2018

The trial has begun in Manchester of Jacek Serafin, a pianist and teacher who is charged with raping a female student at the Royal Northern College of Music in September 2014.

Serafin, 30, failed to show up at Manchester Crown Court for trial. The jury was told he had apparently fled to France on the Eurostar.

This is the second time Serafin has faced trial. On the first occasion, he was found guilty of one charge of assault by penetration and cleared of five charges of rape and three charges of assault by penetration. The jury failed to return a verdict on two counts of rape. The trial continues.

Report here. 



  • Dominic Stafford says:

    If he had previously been found guilty of sexual assault, why was he at large prior to trial?

  • Alex Davies says:

    It’s probably not a good idea to have comments open when the story pertains to an ongoing criminal trial. There is always an inherent risk that somebody could post something that is prejudicial to the outcome of the trial. Given that the defendant has a previous conviction and has left the jurisdiction of the court this would seem to be all the more pertinent.

    • anon says:

      Are you kidding me? What world do you live in?

      Everything can be prejudicial to the outcome of the trial, starting with the fact that he fled. Maybe we should ban the jury from hearing all incriminating facts for being too prejudicial.

      Get real.

      • Alex Davies says:

        You are being ridiculous. Reporting on criminal trials is strictly controlled by law. This is why journalists have to undertake training in media law and why media organisations employ lawyers to check content before publication.

        Why on earth would you suggest something as stupid as that the jury shouldn’t be allowed to hear incriminating facts? That is the point: the defendant’s guilt or innocence is determined by the jury based on the evidence given in court. There should be nothing reported outside of the court room that could prejudice the jury’s ability to make its decision based solely on the evidence put before them. As has been reported, the judge has made clear to the jury that the fact that the defendant has left the jurisdiction of the court should in no way influence them.

        It is a fact that all mainstream online media sources disable commenting on stories relating to anticipated or ongoing criminal trials. In the case of sexual offences it is the norm for reporting to be withheld from social media platforms precisely because the general public cannot be trusted not to comment in a way that could prejudice the outcome of the trial or otherwise break the law, e.g. naming the complainant. You are the one who needs to get real. Safeguarding the integrity of the judicial process is paramount. Disabling commenting and/or withholding from social media is standard in the industry in these cases and there are sound legal reasons for that. If you think that your understanding of the law is better than the whole of the UK media industry you had better have very good reasons for thinking so.

    • Bruce says:

      Q: Hahaha are you serious?

      (A: No. No, you are not.)

  • collin says:

    Do I detect a pattern here, a Pole who runs off to France in order to avoid a rape trial. The French will probably give me the Legion of Honor.

    • collin says:

      give *him* the Legion of Honor

      • V.Lind says:

        Nobody has given Polanski anything equivalent to the Légion d’Honneur. One of his works won honours for its quality. But the Academy has banned him.

        • Mark says:

          The French celebrated the rapist Polanski for years and did not return him to the US to serve his rape sentence — even better that giving him a Légion d’Honneur award.

          And to Alex, what you advocate is only (perhaps?) done in the England, where sticking one’s head in the ground is the favorite national sport. In the US, if something is really serious and prejudicial, a jury is sequestered. The rest of the country has free speech (part of out first amendment rights).

          • Alex Davies says:

            Assuming that this blog is within the jurisdiction of the English courts (which I believe it is), the only law that is relevant is the law of England and Wales. If Norman were to find himself prosecuted over something that somebody posted here (and that he would therefore be responsible for publishing), the US constitution would not be an admissible defence.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            The courts could also, if they thought the issue sufficiently serous, extradite Mark to the UK to face trial for “contempt of court”.

            The EU, for instance, didn’t care much for “first amendment rights” when it legislated over internet privacy, and didn’t much care that many of the organisations were based in the US. They were peremptorily told to comply with EU law. (These organisations are now extending EU protections to citizens in the rest of the world.)

    • V.Lind says:

      Polanski had been tried. And convicted. His lawyers were working on a sentencing deal, It was his fear of what the sentence would be that led him to flee.

  • Paul Richards says:

    Keep up, Norman – he’s got 14 years…