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Rochester Cathedral's former music director Scott Farrell jailed for five years for sexual offences

by Sophie Finnegan and Nicola Jordan

A former organist at a Cathedral who invited children back to his flat to show them pornography and encouraged them to masturbate has been jailed for five years.

Scott Farrell, 48, of High Street, Wouldham, used his position to befriend three young boys and their parents before subjecting them to abuse.

He would show the boys, who were aged between 13 and 15, pornography in his flat and encouraged them to touch themselves as he also masturbated.

Former director of music at Rochester Cathedral, Scott Farrell
Former director of music at Rochester Cathedral, Scott Farrell

Farrell had previously admitted three counts of gross indecency with a boy under 16, two counts of voyeurism and one count of taking indecent images of a child.

He was suspended from his high-profile post at Rochester in March last year after being arrested and resigned eight months later.

He appeared at Cambridge Crown Court today where the court heard how one of his victims now needs counselling.

He first held the position of assistant director of music at Ely Cathedral in January 1999 before becoming music director at Rochester Cathedral.

Colleagues described him as having a "lively personality" and said he was a "valued and respected" member of the music department.

But that all changed when he was arrested in November 2017 after one of his victims had heard about Harvey Weinstein and reported his own abuse to police.

Farrell had met the boys through his work at Ely and would take the boys out for burgers and took them to the cinemas which prosecuting lawyer Charles Falk said was a "gradual build of trust and friendship."

The court heard how Farrell would also take the boys on educational music trips and allowed them to turn the pages while the played the organ.

It would start with a conversation about masturbation with Farrell asking his victims: "So you guys masturbate right? What's the best way to do it?"

He would then put DVDs on and skip to the sex scenes.

Farrell would pleasure himself while the boys were sat nearby but the court heard how there was never any contact between himself and the victims sexually.

"The defendant was an important part of the victim's life. He struggles to trust people and believes everyone has an ulterior motive..."

One boy described how there was another boy there who he said looked "uncomfortable" but Farrell reassured him that it was okay and so he believed it was.

Another victim, remembers Farrell making a comment to one of the other boys, saying "come on don't be shy" because his trousers weren't pulled down very far.

When police raided Farrell's Wouldham house, they seized his mobile phone which when examined revealed further disturbing offences.

Officers found videos and still images of another boy who was filmed showering in his own bathroom.

Farrell had befriended the boy's parents who invited him to stay round their house three or four times after they moved.

He even bought the boy expensive gifts including books that were up to the value of £400.

When police showed the images to his parents, his mother said in a statement that she felt "shocked, disgusted and violated."

It read: "I cannot believe that my husband and I continued to believe in Scott and trust him. I cannot begin to discuss how shocked, and disgusted I felt.

"My husband and I trusted him completely as a family member almost, we allowed him into our home and trusted with completely with our children."

She also described how she felt like herself and her husband were groomed into allowing him access to their home and their son.

Mr Falk read out part of the victim's statement: "The defendant was an important part of the victim's life. He struggles to trust people and believes everyone has an ulterior motive.

Scott Farrell has been jailed for five years
Scott Farrell has been jailed for five years

"He can't have a shower without having to check whether there is a camera. He has not slept and once had a dream that the defendant came into his room. He had a panic attack when he saw that a teacher had the same car as him.

"He feels angry and worthless. He has had issues with mental health but he has hit rock bottom and says life is pointless."

Along with the video of the child showering police uncovered two more images of two adult women undressing while they were in his home.

He had built a friendship with both women over the years and secretly recorded them undressing on two separate occasions while they were in his home.

In statements, both girls said this behaviour was "out of character" for Farrell and one did not want him to be punished for his actions.

Defending Farrell Moham Mau said, he acted out of "immaturity" and said his behaviour though out of line was "not predatory."

He told the court: "He would masturbate and others would follow. He crossed the boundaries. He saw them as boys together, they would go to the cinema and go back to his flat and watch TV and play video games. It was immaturity.

"He did seek out permission, but I do not move away from the fact that the boys were in his flat and there was an enormous breach of trust.

"While you were there, you abused that position by inviting young boys aged between 13 and 15 to your flat where abuse took place..." Judge Stuart Bridge

"He is so remorseful and so regretful of the conduct that he now knows should not have taken place."

The defence lawyer also apologised to the victims on behalf of his client for all the harm caused.

Sentencing Farrell, Judge Stuart Bridge, told him: "You are a man of good character, I have read documents which indicate the good work done in the community and in your position as assistant director of music.

"While you were there, you abused that position by inviting young boys aged between 13 and 15 to your flat where abuse took place.

"It is absolutely clear to me that there must be an immediate sentence of imprisonment."

Farrell was jailed for five years, was made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 15 years and will also be on the Sex Offenders' register for life.

A restraining order was also put in place in relation to one of the victims.

After the sentencing Dean of Rochester Philip Hesketh said: "It is with deep regret and a sense of shame that we confirm Scott Farrell, the former director of music at Rochester Cathedral, has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, for a number of sexual offences.

"His offences were committed during his time at Ely and Rochester.

"We are truly sorry – there are no excuses for what took place. His abuse is a terrible crime and a grievous breach of trust, with life-long effects for those that were abused and their families.

"We commend the bravery of those who came forward with these allegations and acknowledge how difficult and distressing this would have been for them.

"Survivors and all those with information about church related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those survivors, victims and their families who will be affected by this news today."

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