Peter Antonelli: Pervert East Lothian music teacher who nicknamed teen pupil 'Perfect Bum' is jailed
A piano teacher who was awarded an MBE for services to musical education has been jailed for raping and sexually abusing former pupils.
Peter Antonelli,66, spent almost three decades pretending to be a respectable member of the community by teaching children at two schools in East Lothian.
But the High Court in Edinburgh heard he used his position to groom and abuse young girls under his care.
Jurors heard he told dirty jokes and used bad language in front of his pupils and set up photo shoots in which he took explicit images. One witness also told the court that he bought her underwear.
Antonelli, of Gullane, East Lothian, said he had done nothing wrong. He claimed he had a consensual sexual relationship with one of his pupils when she turned 17.
And he maintained that it was common in the 1980s for teachers to date pupils.
But a jury found him guilty on charges of rape, lewd and libidinous conduct and indecent assault against six victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Their decision prompted Judge Jamie Gilchrist QC to remand Antonelli in custody.
Antonelli was awarded an MBE for services to music education in the 2004 New Year’s Honours list.
The court heard that he had studied at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London before becoming a teacher.
One of the women who gave evidence against him said Antonelli was respected in East Lothian and that his music had been played on the radio.
He used the cloak of respectability to groom his six victims between 1980 and 2005.
One said he would run his finger up her back and to her it seemed like he was feeling for a bra strap while she was at secondary school.
The woman, now 45, said: "He would run his hand seductively down your back. It was disgusting.”
She said there came a time when she refused to go to further lessons.
The woman said she had started piano lessons at primary school when she believed she was in the infant school. She said at the lessons at primary school with Antonelli there were no other teachers or pupils present and he would sit "right next to me on the stool, touching".
She added: ”He would always put his hand on your bum and up your back. I think I just froze. I didn't know what to do. This was supposed to be a teacher that you were supposed to trust. Another woman - now aged 52 - told the court how Antonelli called her PB - which stood for Perfect Bum - and took indecent photographs of her during photo shoots which he organised. She said that some of the photos showed her “private parts”.
The woman said that Antonelli became “aroused” when he took the photos.
She also told the court that Antonelli made her perform sex acts on him and got her to go on the pill when she turned 16 because he didn’t want to get her “pregnant”.
The woman told the court that Antonelli also indulged in “controlling behaviour” towards her by repeatedly telephoning her and following her.
The woman told the court that that she was a “victim” of Antonelli.
She added: “He would use inappropriate language - words like ’t**s’ and ‘f***y; - he wouldn’t speak like a teacher. It was completely inappropriate and it crossed the line for the language that a teacher would use.”
Speaking about what would happen when he took the photos, the woman added: “He used to get aroused. When this happened he would do a little laugh.
“He was permanently aroused. He would touch his trousers. He would rub it and laugh.”
The woman also told the court that as she got older, Antonelli bought her underwear for the photos he took.
The woman said that when she turned 16, Antonelli got her to perform sex acts on him.
She said she didn’t know how to stop what was happening to her.
The woman said: “I didn’t know how to get out of it. He had a girlfriend and I couldn’t understand why he was doing it.
“He didn’t want to use his penis on me before I was 16 because he didn’t want to get me pregnant.”
She added: “When I look back at the photos, I have dead eyes. I was just resigned to it.”
She also said that Antonelli wanted her to take the pill and started having sex with her.
She added: “He was saying he didn’t want to get me pregnant so I should go on the pill.
“So I went to the doctor and went on the pill.”
Antonelli admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl when she turned 17 and he was 31 years old.
Antonelli said that he had been engaged to another woman in the months up to becoming sexually involved with his pupil.
He told his lawyer Brian McConnachie QC: “At the time it was quite common then. Not now. But back then it was quite common.”
In his closing speech to jurors, prosecutor Chris Fyffe said tha tAntonelli was "manipulative" and groomed impressionable children and normalised his activities behind the guise of piano teacher.
He added: ”Piano teaching provided him with access to young girls on a one to one basis, but it also provided him with a cover story.”
He said Antonelli had posed and directed youngsters at photoshoots but his "alleged artistic interest in photography was merely a smoke screen".
Mr Fyffe added: "We know now Peter Antonelli had a particular interest in photographing young girls. This was happening behind closed doors.”
Judge Gilchrist also placed Antonelli on the Sex Offenders’ Register. He will be sentenced at the High Court on December 22 2021.
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