Chetham students add horror to sex abuse hearings

Chetham students add horror to sex abuse hearings


norman lebrecht

October 10, 2019

Ian Pace has collected responses from a dozen former students at the Manchester music school, adding their horror and confusion to the shocking evidence heard by the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse last week.

Here are a few blood-chilling memories:

1 I entered Chet’s at 11 as a happy child who was considered to be bright at primary school. By the time I was 12, I was so depressed that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I felt like a complete failure, especially academically. This has stayed with me my whole life…

2 When I arrived and for all but the final year, corporal punishment was meted out not by the staff, but by prefects. Effectively by seventeen year olds. Many of these prefects were inarguably sadists ( I could name them even now ) who prided themselves on how much pain they could inflict on young children. Those children could be guilty of nothing more than wanting to go to the toilet after lights out in the dormitory. 


3 My dear friend A1 [anonymised name as used in the IICSA hearings] was giving live evidence…

I was terribly disappointed to find that my friend A1 had several minutes missing , that were removed to protect her anonymity , which is of course understandable , but at the same time distressing to know that these comments were all about [houseparent]’s appalling behaviour.

When A1 returned from America , we were all called into the “common room” as it was known then , by [houseparent], to be told that A1 is returning and no one must ask her any questions or ask her why , and that we had to pretend everything was normal. Everyone knew anyway ! We all knew they had to get naked … 

I went to [houseparent], and asked her if she was aware that [redacted] was shagging most of his students. She accused me of being a Liar.

Read more here.


  • Richard Gibbs says:

    None of this is surprising. Ten or twelve years ago I gave a major newspaper a copy of the recording of the Purcell School’s head teacher’s late night talk to some if his younger charges which included details of how they could measure the size of their penises. This is absolutely true and was reported by you previously and again last week in a summary report The evidence given to the present enquiry. The newspaper surprisingly didn’t follow this up and the Police refused to act. The head teacher’s wife when asked at some function at the school where her husband was, replied that they could find him amongst the six form boys. She added that he’d done the same thing at his previous school. Much of this is now emerging at the enquiry and about time too. Cheethams, The Menuhin School and the Purcell School played on their privileged positions as centres of cultural excellence whilst all the time turning a blind eye to appalling abuse, thinking themselves above the law.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    It makes you wonder who knew what at these colleges (in other words, is it conceivable that Menuhin himself was aware and didn’t
    intervene? One can but hope that this isn’t the case.)
    When is there going to be an enquiry into some of the other colleges?
    I can think of one college in London where some appalling crimes were covered up.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Lock them up and throw away the key. And that includes any person who failed to act when his/her attention was drawn – much like in the Catholic Church.

  • Flora says:

    Some of the staff behaviour at St Mary’s Music School in the 90s should be scrutinised. Why have only English schools been included in this inquiry?

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Unfortunately the level of cover-ups in this country (see also Operation Midland for instance in another area) is grotesque. Yet we pretend to be superior in comparison to other countries. Beyond disgusting.

  • Ian Pace says:

    There are now 19 testimonies on the page, some of them extended, pointing to many other aspects of the culture at the school, and especially the impact on girls, some of whom were targeted for demeaning and humiliating treatment.