Conductor jailed after sexually abusing boys in Glasgow

Joseph Cullen.  Picture:  Iain McLellan/Spindrift
Joseph Cullen. Picture: Iain McLellan/Spindrift
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A WORLD-renowned conductor who sexually abused two young boys has been jailed for 12 months.

Joseph Cullen, 55, groomed his victims in the late 1970s and 1980s while involved in choirs in Glasgow. He was brought to justice after one of his victims went to police in 2013.

Cullen appeared at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday after pleading guilty to two charges of using lewd and libidinous conduct.

Lord Turnbull said the conductor had enjoyed a successful career following the abuse, resulting in international acclaim. This included two Grammy Awards for his work with the London Symphony Chorus.

The judge told the court Cullen’s first victim had written to him about his abuser and that it appeared the man, now in his late 40s, was not interested in seeking retribution.

But the judge added that the most serious aspect of Cullen’s crimes meant a jail term had to be imposed.

The abuse spanned 1976 to 1982. The first boy was groomed shortly after joining a choir at St Aloysius’ Church in Glasgow, of which Cullen was also a member.

The child, to whom Cullen would secretly give pocket money, was aged around eight when the attacks began.

Cullen, who was his mid to late teens, gained the trust of the boy’s parents and would often visit the family home.

It was there the first incident took place before Cullen again molested the child at the house.

The final more serious attack also occurred there in 1978. The victim did not see his abuser again for more than a decade when they were both at a wedding.

Cullen met his second victim in the early 1980s while choirmaster at a singing group at Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Cullen again gained the trust and friendship of the child’s family. The boy was aged around 11 when first abused.

It was only in 2007 when this victim, who by then was in his late 30s, confronted Cullen about what happened. The victim asked Cullen did he remember what he did but he insisted he did not. In 2013 the victim went to police. The Archdiocese of Glasgow was also alerted. It was around this time the first victim revealed to his family that he had been sexually abused.

As the abuse remained a secret for decades, Cullen gained many plaudits as a conductor, choir master and organist. He was most famous as a director of the London Symphony Chorus.

He has also been a conductor in America, France, Italy, Ireland and across the UK, including at Westminster Cathedral.

Cullen was latterly with the Huddersfield Choral Society in Yorkshire.