‘Inspirational’ conductor gets 24 years for child rape

‘Inspirational’ conductor gets 24 years for child rape


norman lebrecht

May 19, 2020

A judge at Hove Crown Court today sentenced Jonathan Grieves-Smith to 24 years for abusing a girl for several years from the age of five, raping her repeatedly. Grieves-Smith, 57, was musical director of Brighton Festival Chorus from 1983 to 1998.

He was also a regular participant at Dartington Festival and Summer School.

Grieves-Smith had been living in Melbourne, Australia, at the time of his arrest. His Facebook friends include many of the leading lights of the choral, orchestral and festival sectors.

Full court report here. The details are distressing.

The judge said: ‘Many people speak highly of you. However the experience in these courts is that a lot of people of seemingly good character harbour secrets that their friends and family aren’t aware of.’

UPDATE: Statement from Sussex Police:

Detective Constable Lisa Wells of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit, said; “Smith came to know his victim, then aged just five, in the late 1980s and this horrific abuse continued systematically, unbeknown to anyone else, for more than five years until he moved away from the area.

“She has suffered with the trauma and distress of what happened to her, in secret and it was not for more than a further 20 years that she felt strong enough to get in touch and share her experiences with us.

“We have admire her courage and resolution in supporting our investigation and the prosecution process. It took four years to ensure Smith’s return from Australia to face justice and she then gave evidence which helped ensure his conviction at court.

The victim said: “Jonathan Grieves-Smith’s behaviour towards me has fundamentally affected my life, and has also severely affected my family and friendships.
“The impact of what he did to me for so many years has caused me long term trauma in most aspects of my life, and for so long cast a terrible shadow over my reality, causing a ripple effect out to those who could see me struggling, haunted by something unseen, causing upset and pain all around. Keeping silent kept me in a cage of self-destruction.

“After many years into my adulthood, I was able to confide in my family, who every step of the way, have been loving and fully supportive. I was believed and heard, and I am so thankful to have my family know the truth.”


  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    This guy likes rough stuff – well he’s sure to get plenty in prison once the lags find out about him.

    • Emilee says:

      Not sure why Smith himself, and Epstein and Polanski are downvoting your comment, but okay.

    • Feltzer says:

      Rape is never justified, even for rapists., even for convicted rapists in prison. Your comment advocating sexual violence is abhorrent, just as the crimes committed by the rapist in question are abhorrent.

      • Bruce says:

        There is a certain satisfaction (for some) in knowing that the old Hamurrabic Code is being upheld: let the punishment fit the crime. Or you could look at it as a karmic flipping of the Golden Rule: as ye have done unto others, so shall that be done unto you.

    • Shalom says:

      Jews need to step up in the name of diversity!

  • Georg Heinz says:

    Yet another Levine-type down…

    So sad for all the victims both known and otherwise discarded.

  • Malcolm James says:

    He’ll probably be in solitary for his own safety.

  • Anon says:

    Very disturbing, indeed. There is no undoing the harm he inflicted, but at least justice can now be served.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    24 years (and he’s certain to get parole; most everyone does) is a manifestly inadequate sentence. Nobody wants to discuss this, but leniency is a huge part of the culture of enabling which we have. Systematic abuse should attract a mandatory life sentence; but, what the heck, he can be ‘reformed’!!

  • Sharon says:

    To Georg–Levine type? He was a little more subtle and did not use overt threats (although I do not know if that made it any better for those who knew that their entire career was in Levine’s hands) and for the most part his victims were over 18, never 5 years or elementary school age, although adults can still find this type of coercion very traumatic.

    As far as this guy Grieves is concerned, I wonder how many other children out there did he molest?

    What a shame!

  • Sharon says:

    Speaking of Levine–Does anyone know what he has been doing or how he’s doing?

    He has been maintaining a very low profile since the court case with the Met was settled last year.

  • ValeRegina says:

    As a muso, I had a bit to do with this guy 1998-2000. It’s a really sorry truth that conductors, nearly all of them male, have a long and enabled history of abusing women. JGS’s contemporaries when he worked in my city were very well known for their extra curricular activities with women young enough to be their daughters (though all would just have scraped over the legal age threshold by UK standards). Trinity College, where this guy worked for just under two years, and Ormond College next door, churned out between them a brigade of feral choir conductors and organists. Occasionally they were moved sideways, but mostly they were just enabled. Everything was just one big open secret.

    This guy never had a good reputation around women, but no-one ever suspected the back story. There must be a special place in Hell reserved for anyone who hurts children. Truly awful business.