Singing teacher denies assaults
A SINGING teacher on trial for alleged indecent assault has strongly denied touching his students' breasts during special breathing exercises. David Gwyn-Jones described suggestions that he slid his hand under one woman's top as "absolute piffle" and told jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday that there was "no way" he had ever tapped out a rhythmic beat on another woman's nipples.
A SINGING teacher on trial for alleged indecent assault has strongly denied touching his students' breasts during special breathing exercises.
David Gwyn-Jones described suggestions that he slid his hand under one woman's top as "absolute piffle" and told jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday that there was "no way" he had ever tapped out a rhythmic beat on another woman's nipples.
However, the 67-year-old admitted yesterday he had been "naïve" when dealing with his younger students at his former studio in Station Road, Brightlingsea, where one teenager was taught topless.
He said that in hindsight he would not have used the special massage technique and, coming just a few years after he was acquitted at Basildon Crown Court in 1999 of all eight similar charges in similar circumstances, he had now decided his 40-year teaching career was over.
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The former Trinity College of Music tutor has pleaded not guilty to seven charges of indecent assault on six different women between July 2001 and February 2003,
During more than one hour of intense cross-examination yesterday, he told Stephanie Farrimond, prosecuting, that his students had not raised any objections to his relaxation techniques that he had developed over many years.
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He said he had asked two of the complainants – none of whom can be named for legal reasons – to sign forms consenting to "physical contact", but acknowledged this did not confer any right of skin-to-skin contact.
Referring to evidence given by one 17-year-old student, Miss Farrimond, said: "She said to you: 'I'd rather you didn't put your hands under my shirt'. Do you remember that?"
Gwyn-Jones, now of Paignton, Devon, said: "It didn't happen. She removed her T-shirt of her own free will. It was part of the massage technique.
"In order to do a back massage, I first of all asked her to raise the top and said would there be any problem for it to be removed so that the shoulders could be got at properly.
"She had no objection to that."
Asked how her bra had come off, he told the court: "I asked if the strap on her back could be loosened so that the massage could be done more effectively. She didn't complain about it and found that the massage was most beneficial.
"The bra hook was not done and it came off during the massage process. I thought she was older than 17 anyway."
Miss Farrimond also pressed the teacher on why his evidence in court yesterday differed to his original statements to the police.
She said: "In police interview, you were asked about whether you'd ever had a student standing in front of you topless and you answered 'no'. Why was that?"
Gwyn-Jones said: "Well, that's correct because she was not standing, she was sitting."
Miss Farrimond: "Was that misleading?"
Gwyn-Jones: "No. I don't think that in a police interview you should volunteer anything other than the questions asked.
"In hindsight, I would take the whole of that technique back. My more experienced students understood my technique, but my error was expecting that understanding of my approach from others.
"I think I've been naïve."
The trial continues today.