De Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU) is commissioning an external agency to investigate the conduct of a saxophone teacher at the Utrecht Conservatory. This comes in response to inquiries from Pointer. The school states that the teacher will not work for the HKU during the investigation. Additionally, at Fontys Academy of Arts, there were reports of inappropriate behavior: an accordion teacher at the conservatory in Tilburg systematically touched at least four students during main subject lessons, according to Pointer's investigation. The man was reprimanded but was allowed to remain at Fontys Academy of Arts until retirement.
After Pointer revealed in late September how the Conservatorium of Amsterdam had terminated its collaboration with three teachers due to sexual misconduct, new tips about misconduct at conservatories poured in. The outcomes of these tips will be shown on NPO2 on Sunday, November 12, at 22:10.
Three alumni independently shared unpleasant experiences with Pointer about the saxophone teacher in Utrecht. They accuse the teacher of abuse of power, humiliation, and sexual harassment. These stories span over a period of more than 20 years. Pointer eventually spoke with more than ten former students of the man. They portray a teacher who got under the skin of students and could mentally break them down. During lessons, harsh, unwanted, and sometimes sexually suggestive comments were made. Feedback was often harsh, personal, and not musically justified. Alumni claim to have been torn apart during recitals, ensemble, or group lessons, often in front of classmates, friends, or family.
Each former student who testifies in the broadcast about the saxophone teacher raised the teacher's behavior during their academic career. Correspondence seen by Pointer indicates that some fellow teachers, counselors, a tutor, and the department head were aware of the signals.
The HKU states: 'Following new signals from Pointer, which were not known at the administrative level, we immediately proceeded with further investigation by an external research agency. This investigation not only examines the signals themselves but also why they may not have been addressed. This investigation is ongoing, and we will not make any statements about it. During external investigations, our policy is that the concerned employee does not perform any duties for the HKU.' The teacher himself informs Pointer that he is shocked: 'I cannot understand the anonymous reports. (...) I support the independent investigation and have, of course, pledged my cooperation. My employer has asked to await the results of this investigation before responding further.'
Touched during lessons
The behavior of the accordion teacher came to light after the parents of one of the alumni filed an official complaint with Fontys Academy of Arts in 2008. Their daughter, a minor at the time, had come home upset with stories about 'the other lesson.' These lessons took place without an instrument and outside the school schedule and resulted in the student being touched by her teacher.
The complaint in 2008 was heard by Fontys' complaints committee, deemed valid, and assessed as sexual harassment, according to documents seen by Pointer. It also shows that the teacher admitted to giving 'the other lesson' to at least one other student. The school management has never heard about it, just like the rest of the accordion class from that time, up to the present day. Pointer spoke with four former accordion students from Tilburg in recent weeks, who were also victims. Three of them share unpleasant experiences with their teacher in the broadcast. The current management of Fontys refused a substantive comment, but did write: 'We do not comment on individual cases (...). Publicly addressing such a case in detail now would not be considerate.'
The former teacher states in writing: 'I am deeply ashamed and regret immensely that, due to my approach, students—who, believe it or not, were always my top priority—have become victims. (...) It turns out that I completely missed the mark, and I take full responsibility for that.'
Pointer (KRO-NCRV) on misconduct in music education will be aired on Sunday, November 12, at 22:10 on NPO2."