December 2021

MBE music teacher jailed for raping and abusing pupils

A retired music teacher who was awarded an MBE has been jailed for eight years for raping and sexually abusing former pupils.

Peter Antonelli, 66, taught children how to play the piano at two schools in East Lothian for almost three decades.

Last month jurors found him guilty of rape, lewd and libidinous conduct and indecent assault against six victims.

Judge Jamie Gilchrist said two of Antonelli’s victims had suffered “lasting emotional damage”.

Antonelli, from Gullane in East Lothian, had denied the charges.

He claimed he had a consensual sexual relationship with one of his pupils when she turned 17.

The abuse took place between 1980 and 2005. Antonelli was awarded an MBE for services to musical education in the New Year’s Honours list at the end of 2004.

The High Court in Edinburgh was told he used his job to groom and abuse young girls in his care.

One of his victims told the court that when she was at secondary school he would run his finger up her back and to her it seemed like he was feeling for a bra strap.

The woman, now 45, said: “He would run his hand seductively down your back. It was disgusting.”

Another woman – now aged 52 – told the court how Antonelli called her PB – which stood for “perfect bum” – and took indecent photographs of her.

The woman said that Antonelli became “aroused” when he took the photos.

She also told the court that Mr 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.

She said Mr Antonelli also indulged in “controlling behaviour” by repeatedly telephoning her and following her.

“I didn’t know how to get out of it,” the woman said.

Antonelli admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl when she turned 17 and he was 31.

He told his lawyer Brian McConnachie QC: “At the time it was quite common then. Not now. But back then it was quite common.”

Prosecutor Chris Fyffe said Antonelli had groomed impressionable children and normalised his activities behind the guise of piano teacher.

Sentence had been deferred for the court to obtain reports about Antonelli’s background.

On Wednesday as he passed the eight-year sentence, Judge Gilchrist said: “Each of these offences represent a gross breach of trust and flagrant abuse of position for the purpose of sexual gratification.

“They were significantly vulnerable children as a result of their domestic circumstances. You exploited both of those factors in order to sexually abuse them. You appeared to offer them support – both emotional and what might be expected of a teacher.

“But you were in fact grooming and isolating and manipulating them into a position of dependency upon you where you were able to sexually abuse them.”

Antonelli was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.