Teacher, 65, Cleared of Pedophilia Charges

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A jury in Moscow cleared on Friday a 65-year-old piano teacher of accusations that he sexually abused his underage pupils, a case that many spectators blamed on the “pedophilia craze” rampant in Russia.

The jury was unanimous in their decision on Anatoly Ryabov, who burst into tears upon hearing it, RAPSI judicial news agency said. Dozens of his supporters outside the courtroom greeted the verdict with cheers and applause.

The Investigative Committee, which handled the case, did not say on Friday whether it plans to appeal. Ryabov himself was undecided on whether to sue for damages over the case, his lawyer said.

Ryabov was accused of molesting two of his underage female teenage students in 2010, facing up to 20 years behind bars over the case.

He was spared pretrial detention on bail of 1.5 million rubles ($50,000), the sum raised by his students within 24 hours, Dozhd online television said.

But the pianist, who teaches at a prestigious school for children at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, dismissed the accusations, saying they could have been falsified by a vengeful mother of a student he refused to teach.

Child abuse has been a hot topic in Russia due to a Kremlin-backed bill on voluntary chemical castration of pedophiles, passed in February. Children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said last year that sexual crimes against minors have been on the increase in recent years.

However, the pedophilia craze was called into question during the trial of Vladimir Makarov, convicted last fall of abusing his own daughter on what his supporters said was shaky evidence, complete with testimony from a child psychiatrist who dabbled in public erotic shows.

Critics alleged that the law enforcements pushed forward with Makarov’s case to improve their performance statistics and because they were reluctant to admit their mistake in the case, fearing administrative sanctions. Makarov was jailed for five years, but has appealed the verdict.

Source: RIA Novosti