Pianist 'sexually assaulted boys'

The Oxford Times: A concert pianist has gone on trial accused of sexually assaulting boys who came to his home for music lessons A concert pianist has gone on trial accused of sexually assaulting boys who came to his home for music lessons

A famous concert pianist sexually assaulted boys who came to him for music lessons and filmed youngsters he abused from a Sea Cadet unit, a prosecutor has told a jury.

John Briggs, 65, went on trial at Bradford Crown Court today accused of offences against five boys, spanning a 24-year period, from 1969 to 1993.

The youngest was 10 years old at the time of the alleged offence.

Briggs, who denies all the charges, sat in the dock as Nicholas Worsley, prosecuting, outlined each of the allegations made by the boys.

"He is a professional musician," Mr Worsley said.

"He plays the piano. He is a concert pianist.

"In the past he has taken private pupils for music lessons. During the course of those lessons he would sexually assault boys he was supposed to be teaching."

Mr Worsley said one complainant was a piano student of Briggs in the late 1970s, when he was about 14 or 15 years old.

He said: "(The boy) was very proud to be taught by Briggs.

"He was well known at the time, very famous at the time.

"He was put in for his grade eight exam, which was advanced for his age.

"He feared that if he said anything, that would be the end of his hopes as a pianist."

Mr Worsley described one incident in which the youngster turned up at Briggs's home expecting to be given a "masterclass" on the teacher's personal piano, which was a "big deal".

But, the prosecutor said, Briggs met him in a pink dressing gown, which he took off to reveal he was naked before abusing him.

Mr Worsley said the boy ran home and spoke to his mother but "nothing was ever done about it".

He said: "Briggs subsequently got in touch with (the boy's) parents and said that their son had no talent whatsoever and would never amount to anything as a musician."

Mr Worsley said two of the complainants were music students but the other three were known to Briggs through his involvement with the Keighley Sea Cadet unit. The defendant was president of the group.

He said one of these boys was filmed by Briggs during one assault and a t he defendant gave him £80 to appear on camera.

The prosecutor also gave details of Briggs filming another of the Sea Cadets.

Briggs denied all the offences when he was interviewed by police, Mr Worsley told the jury of six men and six women.

He said the defendant told officers "the allegations were made up and it was all a vicious conspiracy against him".

But the prosecutor said the former music pupils only came forward after publicity when Briggs was arrested and charged in connection with the allegations relating to the Keighley Sea Cadets.

Mr Worsley said: "They did not know each other or any of the complainants who were members of the Sea Cadets.

"The cadets either did not know each other or had no involvement in each others's lives after that organisation and prior to the allegations being made."

The prosecutor told the jury that Briggs was arrested in the early 1990s after one alleged sexual assault but was not charged at the time.

Briggs , of Little Lane, East Morton, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, sat alone in the dock listening to the prosecution opening, wearing a jacket and tie.

He denies nine counts of indecent assault on a male and one of indecency with a child.

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