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Violin teacher in Chatham acquitted of 51 sex assault-related charges

There was no question a violin teacher in Chatham touched nearly two dozen girls in the 1970s and 80s. Claude Trachy could even see how the contact could be seen as uncomfortable, said his lawyer. But, for the judge, context was everything, and Trachy was found not guilty of 51 sexual assault-related charges today.

The charges involve 25 former students and date back to the 1970s and 80s

Retired violin teacher Claude Trachy has been acquitted of 51 sexual assault-related charges. Former students alleged he touched them inappropriately when he measured them for shoulder rests. (Getty Images)

There was no question a violin teacher in Chatham touched nearly two dozen girls in the 1970s and 80s.

Claude Trachy could even see how the contact could be seen as uncomfortable, said his lawyer Ken Marley.

But, for Justice Thomas Carey, context was everything, and Trachy was found not guilty today of 51 sexual assault-related charges involving 25 former students.

Trachy testified he believed he needed to take various body measurements to fit the then-girls for a shoulder rest. The measurements included touching the girls' breasts.

Marley says the judge believed Trachy over the evidence of the former students, who did not express concerns about the touching at the time.

"Generally speaking, their evidence was similar if not identical. The real issue was whether or not the complainants were right, as they now contend, that the touching was for a sexual purpose as opposed to a practical purpose," said Marley. "And Mr. Trachy's evidence in that regard was accepted by the court."

Marley likened the contact to when a hockey coach pats one of his players "on the butt."

"That's not sexual touching. At least, we hope it's not. When doctors examine us and sometimes touch our bodies that are clearly private parts, we accept or at least we hope that it's not for a sexual purpose — that there's a clinical purpose for it," he added.

Marley also said the judge considered the expert testimony of Jerzy Kaplanek, who teaches music at Wilfrid Laurier University. Kaplanek testified he had never before heard of this type of measuring for a violin shoulder rest.

But, Marley said, the judge noted the Kaplanek was younger than Trachy and, accepted that Trachy learned his methodology from physiology books.

Trachy retired from teaching violin in 2009.

And court heard he stopped measuring girls like this after being found guilty of sexual assault in 1993.