Cellist Jérôme Pernoo on Trial Following Sexual Assault Charges
Accused of the sexual assault and harassment of former students at Paris’s National Conservatory of Music and Dance, Pernoo could face up two years in prison
Jérôme Pernoo, 51, was first suspended as a cello teacher in May 2021 from Paris’s National Conservatory of Music and Dance — where he has taught since 2007 — following accusations of sexual misconduct towards male students from over a decade ago.
He was reinstated in July 2021, after the expiration of the initial suspension, with the matter to be revisited in September of that year. Following the initial investigations, he was later suspended again, several times.
On May 26, 2023, Pernoo appeared on trial before the Paris Criminal Court for sexual assault and harassment charges. A fourth complaint was added in April 2023, which triggered new police custody on the premises of the Paris judicial police.
The fourth plaintiff was cellist Bruno Philippe, who had until then shown his support for his former teacher, but decided to break his silence and file a complaint in late December 2022 against Pernoo for “comparable facts,” according to RTBF news.
The case plaintiffs, some of whom are now in their 30s but were minors at the time, reiterated their accusations against Pernoo from the period between 2005 and 2016, during internships or trips abroad. Pernoo rejected these accusations outright.
From Pernoo’s trial, the prosecution demands two years of imprisonment including one year of probation, an obligation of care, compensation for civil parties, and a ban on teaching and practicing.
Pernoo’s defense relayed that the accused “firmly denies all the accusations,” and pleaded for the release of all the proceedings, also stating the prosecution decisions as “totally disproportionate.”
Questioned at the start of the trial, Pernoo denied all the charges against him and when asked about the plaintiffs’ testimonies, relegated the situation as a counterfeit, further saying that “this story” was “completely contrived.”
The Paris Criminal Court will announce its deliberation on September 26, 2023.
In March 2021, the director of the CNSMDP Emilie Delorme, received two reports related to acts of sexual violence, which implicated Pernoo.
Proceedings followed in the Administrative Court of Paris for Pernoo’s case. Since April 2021, the CNSMDP has conducted internal audits with consultancy agencies specializing in gender equality and prevention of gender-based and sexual violence.
Though charges against Pernoo were dropped in September 2021, he was barred from teaching at CNSMDP for the 2021/22 academic year.
In December 2021, Pernoo was suspended from the school, without notice or compensation, for a maximum period of four months, and again in May 2022, after an administrative investigation and disciplinary proceedings. This dismissal was confirmed in November 2022 by the Administrative Court of Paris.
By December 2022, before this recent trial, he was placed in police custody after formal complaints were filed by four of his former students.