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Claims world-famous musician sexually abused five boys during a 25-year period
6:20am Thursday 20th February 2014 in News
World-famous concert pianist John Briggs sexually abused five boys during a 25-year period, a jury at Bradford Crown Court has been told.
Briggs, 65, of Little Lane in East Morton, is accused of ten offences involving two young piano students and three members of Keighley Sea Cadets more than two decades ago.
He denies nine allegations of indecent assault on a male person and one of indecency with a child.
Prosecutor Nick Worsley told the jury Briggs’s alleged victims were then aged between ten and 16. The oldest allegation dated back almost 45 years to 1969 when Briggs was in his early 20s and living with his mother in Crossflatts.
His alleged victim, now in his 50s, told the police Briggs put his hand down his trousers during piano lessons when he was aged ten to 12.
The man said the abuse began within weeks of him starting to take lessons with Briggs, and took place at the piano on a shared stool and on the sofa afterwards at “debriefing” sessions.
He said he was very confused at the time, and knew it should not be happening, but it was his parents’ wish he took the lessons.
Mr Worsley told the jury Briggs’s second alleged victim was a 14 or 15-year-old piano student of his in the late 1970s.
He said Briggs, then living in Bingley, sexually abused him while making him do floor exercises to strengthen his stomach muscles for piano playing.
“He was very proud to be taught by Mr Briggs. He was put in for his Grade 8 exam, which was advanced for his age. He was fearful that if he said anything, that would be the end of his hopes as a pianist,” Mr Worsley added.
One day, the boy arrived for a class at the home of Briggs, who was wearing a pink dressing gown. He told the boy to lie on a bed next to him.
Mr Worsley said Briggs was naked under the gown and took the boy’s arm, moving it towards his lower stomach area.
The court heard the boy ran from the house and spoke to his mother, but nothing was done.
Mr Worsley said Briggs later rang the boy’s parents saying “their son had no talent and would never amount to anything as a musician”.
The complainant said he felt repulsed by the incident. “I just recoiled from the whole thing,” he added.
The next three complainants were members of Keighley Sea Cadets. Briggs’s mother had been president of the organisation, and when she stepped down, her son replaced her.
One alleged victim said Briggs massaged his crotch and photographed him modelling different outfits with his genitals exposed.
When interviewed by the police, Briggs denied any sexual assaults. He said all the allegations were made up and it was “a vicious conspiracy against him”.
Cross-examined by Briggs’s barrister, Nick Askins, the trial’s first witness said he told his sister about 20 years ago the concert pianist had “messed around” with him.
The man, giving evidence in court behind screens, could not recall ever asking Briggs to leave him alone when he allegedly molested him or refusing to go for his piano lessons.
He told the jury that some time after he had stopped having lessons, he went round to Briggs’s home after he had been drinking and had sex with him.
He said he did not tell the police about this because he was ashamed. He came forward last year to accuse Briggs of sexual assault after reading the pianist had been charged with sexually abusing boys.
Asked why he did not go to the police sooner, he replied: “I just did not feel as though I could.”
The trial continues.