Mr Dara De Cogan, 58, a married man with two adopted daughters appeared at York Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, after pleading guilty to 10 counts of sexual activity with a child whilst in a position of trust, earlier this month.
De Cogan is a former music teacher at Ampleforth College, which is one of the country’s leading Roman Catholic Boarding Schools. The charges relate to the period from December 2007 to December 2009 whilst De Cogan was a teacher at the College.
York Crown Court heard that the victim was a girl who was a gifted student at the College and he “subjected the girl to vile bondage sessions and critiqued her sexual technique in the same way he would her violin playing.”
De Cogan an Irish born Classical Musician and Composer tutored the girl the violin. They would meet regularly in the music room and outside of term time he would take her on drives into the countryside where the abuse continued. The abuse started when she was 13 years of age, “he would tell the child that he loved her, he kissed her whenever he got the chance and referred to her as a flirt and a temptress.”
After she passed the age of consent he started performing sex acts on her and “tied her up with a blue rope.”
In a victim statement, the girl who is now in her 20’s said, “He took advantage of me in the most manipulative and vile way possible. I have not had any sort of romantic relationship since the events in question and no longer have any desire for one. I have difficulty in forming the most basic friendships. I would never say Dara has completely ruined my life because I would not want him to have that power. But my life has been put on hold because of his actions.”
Judge Andrew Stubbs said, “You took advantage of her immaturity, insecurity and innocence. You used her to satisfy your sexual desires and act out your own sexual fantasies. You groomed her for a period, you were then able to use her at your will – critiquing her technique in sex as you no doubt critiqued her technique in music lessons. The fact the abuse happened in a place so closely entwined with the love of God is hard to reconcile. When parents send their children to school they entrust their most precious possession to the care and protection of others. This was an abject failure of trust both in the college and you.”
De Cogan was jailed for 28 months with half to be served and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.
There have been previous allegations relating to sexual abuse by priests at Ampleforth College in the last 20 years.
Jordans are currently representing a large number of clients who have suffered sexual and physical abuse suffered at schools and organisations; including Ampleforth College. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault, a claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to contact Jordans and pursue a civil claim.