Historic sexual assault trial involving music teacher continues in Chatham

Two complainants in a historic sexual assault trial involving a retired Chatham music teacher faced some intense questioning from defense counsel on Tuesday.

A third complainant still was being questioned by the Crown when court was adjourned for the day.

Claude Eric Trachy, 72, faces numerous sexual-related charges involving 25 former music students regarding alleged incidents that date between the 1970s and early 1990s.

A publication ban prohibits naming the complainants or anything that could identify them.

A 42-year-old woman testified she began taking lessons with Trachy at age five and continued until she was 19. Her lessons progressed without incident until her early teen years when, similar to other testimony heard, she was told by Trachy it was time to be measured for a moulded shoulder rest that would improve her ability to play the violin.

Along with taking measurements that, similar to testimony from other complainants, involved placing a ruler from the shoulder to the bare nipple, the woman testified she was required to practice while topless on several occasions. She also said he often touched her breast during this time.

Assistant Crown attorney Lisa Defoe asked why her top was off.

"I don't know. He told me it was required to observe me playing,” the woman said.

She recalled feeling uncomfortable and confused and “not understanding why it needed to be done in this fashion.” But she added, “I trusted him and believed what he was telling me.”

Defence lawyer Ken Marley raised the issue of Trachy coming to the woman's home in late 1991 to tell her parents he was facing charges due to allegations by some students.

The woman recalled Trachy had come to their home to speak to her parents, but noted she wasn't there.

Marley pressed on her what she knew about the charges and why she ended up returning to take lessons with Trachy - writes lfpress.com.

“If you had a concern about what had been happening to you, this would have been a perfect opportunity to say something about it,” Marley said.

The woman responded: “Because I was embarrassed and I didn't want to be a part of it.”

She testified that during the last year or so of her lessons, Trachy stopped touching and measuring her.

A 43-year-old woman, who began taking lessons at approximately age 10, testified that after a few years of learning the violin, Trachy said she needed to be measured and fitted for a shoulder rest to help improve her ability to play the instrument.

She recalled him feeling under her shirt and lightly touching underneath and the sides of his breast and occasionally going over her breast.

“He would just say, 'Be patient, hold still,' and I would just follow his instructions,” the woman said.

“I hated every minute of it,” she added. “I was embarrassed. I felt it was intrusive.”

The woman recalled telling Trachy in September 1991 she didn't want him touching her any longer or she would stop the lessons.

“I think he was taken aback. He looked shocked by it,” she said.

However, she said it wasn't long before he began touching her in later lessons.

“It never occurred to me to call the police,” she said. “I just thought I could tell him and he would respect what I asked.”

During cross-examination, Marley raised the incident of her mother overhearing her complain about the touching to her sister, and the fact she had told her father about it as well, in hopes of being able to stop taking the lessons.

“To the best of your knowledge, were either of your parents ever interviewed by police over this matter,” Marley asked.

“No,” replied the woman.

Marley pounced on a discrepancy in the woman's statement that she took lessons with Trachy until June 1991, which she quickly corrected to June 1992.

He pointed to the fact the woman couldn't remember that in early 1992, Trachy went from giving lessons in the basement of his home to the living room of his home.

“The reason you don't remember . . . is you weren't a student of his in 1992,” he said. “I'm going to suggest . . . you were not touched in any way or at any time by Mr. Trachy (in 1992).”

The woman responded: “I don't recall.”

Marley also suggested she never told her mother she was being touched by Trachy in a way that felt sexual.

“I questioned with her why he had to touch me in my breast area,” she said. “Why did it have to happen in almost every lesson?”

The two complainants each testified the measuring and touching would stop around the time extra practice was needed to prepare for special events such as music festival or exam.

A 44-year-old woman, who began taking violin lessons with Trachy at age eight, recalled a traumatizing event as she began her testimony late in the day.

She experienced similar experiences of being measured and touched by Trachy, but became choked with emotion when talking about it happening once in her own home.

“Because it was a very different setting, I think that was part of the trauma,” she said.

The woman recalled in 1990, she was preparing for her Grade 8 violin exam and it was arranged that Trachy would pick her up at high school during a spare period and drive her home so she could have some extra practice.

Shortly after they arrived, she said Trachy asked her to go upstairs and take off her bra and come back down wearing a blouse unbuttoned in front.

“I know I hesitated in my bedroom and didn't want to come back down,” she said.

The woman said Trachy measured her from her shoulder to her nipple in her living room, before sending her back upstairs to change so they could do the lesson.

She recalled not knowing how she reacted.

“I believe I disassociated myself away from what was happening,” she said.

The trial continues Wednesday when more complainants are expected to testify.

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