Bury St Edmunds: Murdered dance teacher had been accused of ‘brainwashing’ children
09:35 30 August 2014
Exclusive strictly copyright Andy Abbott
Fears children were effectively being brainwashed by Richard-Scott Rogers led Suffolk County Council to release a carefully worded statement on November 9, 1995.
Although it did not mention the specific nature of the 13 charges Mr Rogers was cleared of at Inner London Crown Court two years earlier there was no mistaking the warning.
In a subsequent rebuttal Mr Rogers admitted children had stayed at his home, but had done so with their parents’ consent.
He added parents had nothing to fear and challenged the council to conduct a full investigation.
Mr Rogers said: “If people read it (the council statement) it is an opinion. But it’s not a valid opinion”
The council was unhappy with the behaviour of children who went to the Academy of Dancing and Performing Arts which Mr Rogers had founded in Bury St Edmunds in 1983.
It said in 1993 it was concerned about the way pupils “moved their allegiance” from their parents to a “senior member” of the academy.
It also claimed the situation was “reminiscent of those cases in which parents sought to extricate a child from the influence of a religious, or supposedly religious, cult”.
After the statement was released the principal of the college Rachel Richards also disputed the claims and said Mr Richards only worked at the academy for two hours a week.
The council cryptically said at the conclusion of Mr Rogers’ court case “a number of findings and observations were made regarding the academy and the conduct of a senior member to which the local authority are not at liberty to refer”.
Classes were sometimes held in schools and sometimes elsewhere. More than 500 pupils attended the academy.
Among the schools involved were Great Cornard Middle, Thurston Upper and Mildenhall Upper. Children from RAF Lakenheath were also involved in classes.
Following the warning one mother told how she had come close to losing her daughter. She also ran a support group for 18 families who claimed their children had suffered serious problems since joining the academy.