Former Glasgow choir master Joseph Cullen jailed for child abuse

Cullen was sentenced at Glasgow Sheriff Court
Cullen was sentenced at Glasgow Sheriff Court
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A world-renowned conductor who abused a boy who saw him as a “surrogate father” has been jailed for ten months.

Joseph Cullen, 58, was the choir master and organist at St Andrews Cathedral in Glasgow and choir master at St Aloysius Church in Garnethill, Glasgow, between 1976 and 1985.

The father-of-three, who has worked at Westminster Cathedral and with the London Symphony Chorus, abused a nine year-old boy who joined a choir at St Andrews Cathedral.

He called the child his “special friend” and told him not to tell anyone because it was their secret.

Cullen, from Leeds, pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to a charge of using lewd and libidinous conduct towards the schoolboy between January 1981 and December 1984.

Jailing Cullen for ten months yesterday, Sheriff Martin Jones said: “You were in a position of trust. You took advantage of that position and you sexually abused him over three years.”

The sheriff added: “The crime which you committed all those years ago remains serious. That’s not diluted by the passage of time.”

In July 2015 he was jailed for 12 months at the High Court in Glasgow for two other charges of using lewd and libidinous conduct at both cathedrals against two other boys.

Procurator fiscal depute Niall Macdonald said: “Cullen became more involved in the complainer’s life, taking him out on trips, driving him home from choir practice and spending time with him.

“He describes Cullen at this time as a ‘surrogate father’ despite him only being in his 20s.”

The court heard Cullen first attacked the boy in the organ room at the cathedral when he went for choir practice.

On hearing other people walk upstairs towards them, Cullen left the room briefly, but returned and said “that was close”.

Mr Macdonald added: “The complainer did not disclose what happened to anyone at the time as he thinks Cullen told him not to say anything.”

The court heard of “several other occasions” when Cullen abused the boy in the organ room.

On one occasion Cullen drove the boy home and when nobody was in, asked to see his bedroom, where he carried out another sex attack.

He then took the child to another relative’s house but told him not to tell anyone because it was wrong, and their “special secret”.

In June 2015, the victim’s mother saw information online about Cullen’s earlier conviction relating to historical offences against children.

She told her son who contacted the police to report what Cullen had done to him.

Cullen was also put on the sex offenders’ register.