Official documents, letters about Victor Lvovich Makarov
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Abusing boys was in my nature


Victor Makarov was a renowned music teacher with a fatal flaw, writes Geesche Jacobsen.

THE BOY was practising the piano with his music teacher, Victor Makarov. Suddenly, the Russian-born professor came up behind him, put his hand inside the boy's shirt and moved it down towards his genitals. The pants were tight, impeding the teacher's progress, and the 12-year-old became unsettled, so Makarov stopped.

The lesson continued and at the end Makarov hugged the boy and tried to give him a long, passionate kiss.

The boy, "A", ran outside where his mother was waiting in the car to take him home. She noticed he was very agitated.

"Mum," he said, "I think Victor is gay."

"Why?" his mother asked.

"Because he kissed me on the lips," A said.

That day, December 5, 2003, was when the career of the internationally known and respected piano teacher began to unravel.

Makarov, 52, had migrated from Ukraine to Sydney in 1998, after being recruited by the private Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. Some of his star students have gone on to establish careers as concert pianists.


It was A's last lesson with Makarov. Like some others before him, he suddenly stopped attending - a surprise to anyone who knew what a privilege it was to be taken on as one of Makarov's students.

And that might have been the end of the incident, had A's parents not encountered the mother of B, a 14-year-old student of Makarov's, in late January.

They started talking and they told B's mother their son was no longer taking lessons from Makarov. When she heard what had happened, B's mother was shocked.

She spoke to her son, who told her Makarov had repeatedly sexually assaulted him. He told of mutual masturbation, watching gay pornography, kissing and anal intercourse.

A few days later the family went to confront Makarov at his home. B insisted on going along to face his abuser.

"You wanted to conquer me," he told Makarov, "but I am telling you, you have not conquered me. You betrayed my trust and you betrayed the trust of my parents. You wanted to destroy me. You are a very, very sick man and should be punished."

Makarov did not respond.

B's parents, still in shock and concerned about publicity, suggested Makarov should leave the country.

Makarov told his employer, the Australian Institute of Music, of the allegations, and B's parents went to the police. When they charged Makarov, other victims, C, D and E, contacted police with similar reports. The Sydney music community was in shock.

Since then, Makarov has faced four separate trials involving five victims. The first trial, involving A, was aborted for legal reasons. In the three subsequent trials Makarov has been convicted of 26 charges. These range from gross indecency to aggravated indecent assaults and aggravated sexual intercourse with a minor. Yesterday, as the final trial ended, the jury found Makarov guilty of all 10 offences against D and E.

After the trial involving B last year, Makarov was sentenced, on the anniversary of that fateful meeting between the families of A and B, to at least eight years in jail. He is still to be sentenced for the 18 offences against C, D and E.

His modus operandi was cunning. He had won the boys' trust as their teacher. When they turned 12, he raised the subject of sex. He explained to them that music had much to do with sex and love, and they needed to understand this.

"[Makarov] said that the reason why he's doing things is because music has so much erotic content or context to it, one has to experience in order to be a better musician," C told the court.

His offences escalated over time from touching and kissing to intercourse, after which Makarov told one victim: "You are mine now."

If the boys, whom he swore to secrecy, rejected his advances he accused them of not loving him.

Makarov's teaching style was authoritarian - much criticised by some in the music community, but yielded results with wins in international competition for some of his top students.

D told the court he had been threatened with further attempts at anal penetration if he did not improve his piano playing.

One did not argue with Makarov. "Absolute obedience" was the price the students had to pay for being taught by him, Judge Megan Latham summed up when sentencing Makarov in January for the crimes against B.

Even Makarov admitted in his evidence he demanded "total dedication" from his students.

As the students grew older and had their first girlfriends, the abuse normally ceased.

His offences were not isolated; they happened hundreds of times. Something occurred in virtually every lesson, some of the former students told the court.

Sometimes more than one boy was involved. At least once he asked two students to perform oral sex on one another.

Students would sometimes be shown music videos when they had private lessons at Makarov's house. But sometimes they would be shown gay pornography.

Once D, E and another person were watching a porn film when Makarov performed oral sex on E, then masturbated D.

After the allegations were raised, D told Makarov he hated him for what he had done to him. "I know, but it's in my nature," the teacher replied.

Makarov admitted to E he knew his actions were wrong, but said he could not "control his genes".

This is the closest Makarov has come to admitting his guilt. Throughout the trials his defence team tried to convince the juries that the boys had fabricated the evidence.

The students remained firm under fierce cross-examination which also pried into intimate details of their sex lives.

A parent of one student said the support of the police child-protection experts was vital to "keeping them alive" during the legal process.

Makarov's lawyer claimed the lessons were constantly interrupted, therefore the abuse could not have occurred. The students were lazy or jealous and made up the stories, the juries were told. And, the defence asked, how could they have performed at such high standard if they had been abused?

D told the court the abuse had driven him to gamble and left him with a confused sexual identity. But B said a well-trained pianist learns to concentrate on the music and blocks out all other matters.

Like Makarov, his supporters continue to proclaim his innocence. Some continued to trust him to teach their children even after he was charged.

Makarov continued teaching at the institute until October last year and kept giving private lessons; his bail conditions stipulated he be supervised when in contact with children.

When the allegations first became public, conspiracy theories raged. An unnamed rival was said to have asked the students to fabricate the allegations to destroy Makarov out of professional jealousy. The victims were accused of seeking compensation. Even ethnic allegiances were blamed.

The institute became divided into pro- and anti-Makarov factions. Students, too, were forced to take sides, and some feared that their education would be affected if they associated with those who had made the allegations.

The parents of one victim are still upset by the way the institute handled the matter. "We think the way the institute dealt with that was totally inappropriate."

The institute, a private organisation, told parents it could not suspend the piano teacher because he was innocent until proven guilty. In government schools it is common practice for teachers to be given non-classroom duties if charged with such serious offences.

The parents said they were very disappointed authorities like the Education Department and the Ombudsman's Office did not force the institute to do likewise.

Makarov has been in jail

since December. He has no access to a piano.

.Victor Makarov was charged with 26 offences against five victims, aged between 12 and 17, from July 1998 to December 2003.

.He has already been sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of eight years, starting in 2004, for eight offences.

.He awaits sentencing for the remaining 18 offences.




Victor Makarov piano pianist professor

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