A Grammy award-winning conductor who abused a boy who regarded him as a surrogate father has been jailed for ten months and placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.
Joseph Cullen, 58, was the choirmaster and organist at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow and choirmaster 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 Andrew’s. He called the child his “special friend” and told him not to tell anyone because it was their secret.
Cullen, from Leeds, admitted at Glasgow sheriff court lewd and libidinous conduct towards the boy between January 1981 and December 1984.
Sheriff Martin Jones, QC, told him:
“The offence to which you have pleaded guilty to involves the sexual abuse of a young boy between nine and 12 at the time, when he was particularly vulnerable. You were in a position of trust. You took advantage of that position and you sexually abused him over three years.
“The crime which you committed all those years ago remains serious, that’s not diluted by the passage of time.”
In July 2015 Cullen 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.
The sheriff court had been told that the child in the latest case was a keen singer. He was experiencing family problems when he joined the choir.
Niall Macdonald, the procurator fiscal depute, 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 twenties.”
Thomas Ross, in mitigation, said that Cullen had had a “very successful career as a freelance musician”. Mr Ross added: “He had a wonderful reputation in that field and as soon as he was arrested all of that was lost.” Cullen won two Grammy awards while director of the London Symphony Chorus.