UK cathedral music director is jailed for child sex

UK cathedral music director is jailed for child sex


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2019

A former music director at Rochester Cathedral in Kent has been jailed for five years for showing porn and masturbating with choir boys, aged 13 to 15. Scott Farrell, 48, was previously assistant director of music at Ely Cathedral.

He was reported to police after one of the boys read allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Report here.



  • Nik says:

    The ratio of sexual delinquency to music on this blog must be nearing the halfway point.

    • V.Lind says:

      Wonder of having all these women conductors SD has lobbied so hard for will make a difference? Afraid I think it will!

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    It’s not child sex.

    It’s child abuse or rape.

    • Karl says:

      Not rape. He never touched any of them. The worst charge is him making a video of a boy showering.

      • Rob says:

        From the article:

        It would start with a conversation about masturbation with Farrell asking his victims: “So you guys masturbate right? What’s the best way to do it?”

        He would then put DVDs on and skip to the sex scenes.

        Farrell would pleasure himself while the boys were sat nearby but the court heard how there was never any contact between himself and the victims sexually.

        Not rape, but probably just as traumatic to young boys. Why argue on semantics?

        • Paul Brownsey says:

          “Why argue on semantics?”

          Oh dear, this sad fashion for trashing accuracy as “semantics”.

          Semantics is a perfectly respectable discipline. People who dismiss accuracy as “semantics” are often people who want to project an image: “I’m such a profound thinker grappling with realities–do you hear, realities?–that getting things right is something people like me can dismiss.”

      • V.Lind says:

        No, it wasn’t rape, but if you have read that article and think that making a video of a boy showering was “the worst charge,” something you appear to dismiss as nothing, you clearly have no comprehension of the sensitivities of children and the MASSIVE damage that can be done to them by this sort of deviant behaviour.

        For God’s sake, try to think of vulnerable people. This defence of musicians at all costs is getting sick.

      • Tif says:

        Let us be very clear. Check the court reports. He has got 5 years. “He previously admitted 3 counts of gross indecency with a boy under 16, 2 counts of voyerurism and one of taking indecent images of children”….
        The court recounts how he would make the children in his care watch pornography, encourage them to masturbate whilst he did the same. When he was busted he was found to have cameras and secret recording devices and a collection of secretly film footage of boys showering in his bathroom. He groomed these boys in his care after befriending their parents….
        These choirboys, these children are scared for life. Maybe he didn’t rape them but he has done untold damage to them and yet again to the church and music teaching profession.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Distasteful & disgusting. Again some church member who misread Matthew 19:14 – “Let the little children come to me”.

    • Sharon says:

      I am no expert in the Christian Bible but isn’t there a quote somewhere in it concerning the sin of “scandalizing a child”. Isn’t exposing children to sex what the Bible might have meant?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Matthew 19:13-15:

        13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

        14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

        15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

        One can see how emotionally-challenged priests may read this in a way which was not quite intended by Christ.

        • Peter Phillips says:

          The real warning is earlier in Matthew 18: 6, “If any of you put a stumbling-block before any of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” That aside, isn’t it time we saw more women involved in cathedral music?

          • John Borstlap says:

            Indeed, Matthew 18:6 is perfect advise for how to treat perpetrators.

            And indeed, more women in any religion would certainly improve things, including music. The idea that religion is a male occupation is a relatively recent development in Antiquity: before ca. 1100 BC religion was quite much a female affair, as the Minoan civilization shows.

  • Roger Iain Mason says:

    Very sad. What a waste of a talent not to mention the damage he has done and the innocence he has destroyed

  • HisNameNotMine says:

    As a parent of an ex Rochester chorister – I would urge you ALL to think carefully about your comments here. Whether you think they are amusing, or whether you think that the bible ‘makes it acceptable’ – let me be clear – explaining to your child, aged 12 -14 that they were daily in the care of someone who was grooming not only children, but their parents is heartbreaking. A position of trust. A position where he made children bring out the most beautiful music imaginable and for all those aspects of beauty to be absolutely wrecked in everyones memory? Listening to choral music will certainly no longer be something os innocence in our home. His behaviour was morally incomprehensible and strangely enough, illegal. As for “The worst charge is him making a video of a boy showering”…….really?

    • Jonathan says:

      I am also very disturbed by some of the asinine remarks posted in response to this story. Even more disturbing are those that seek to minimize disgraceful behaviour – so grave that it attracted a very significant custodial sentence in spite of a guilty plea – even if the headline to this article is clumsy and somewhat misleading. Such comments are both astoundingly stupid and also extremely hurtful to the victims of Mr Farrell’s appalling betrayal of trust. I have good reason to believe that the Rochester musical community is in very good hands now, and that safeguarding is a top priority for them. The process of rebuilding trust will be long and painful, however, and will not be helped by idiots quoting the bible or by apologists for Scott Farrell downplaying his cruel and outrageously exploitative criminal wrongdoing. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this awful saga.

      • Simon Gregory says:

        Thank you for that breath of fresh air amongst some pretty flaky and, as you so succinctly put it, idiotic biblical references. I’m afraid that apologists are all too common having had an experience on another forum where I was advised that there were a number of members prepared to back up another organist convicted on the basis of nearly a million images. This reflects badly upon that section of the music profession that really ought to know better. And it’s not really sad that, I’m this case, a talent has been wasted, it’s for everyone’s benefit that this case has produced a resolute and appropriately punitive outcome.

    • Karl says:

      “morally incomprehensible and strangely enough, illegal”?
      What are you even saying?? You think it’s strange that it’s illegal to video people showing without their knowledge??

  • gulliblefellow says:

    I feel betrayed as I was someone who stuck up for Scott pre trial. He never gave me cause for suspicion, had a lovely girlfriend and was an extremely talented choir director getting two of his choristers to the final of young chorister of the year and one winning it. He has not only soured their memory of their achievements, betrayed the trust of his friends and fiancee but also himself by throwing his career away