Music Teacher Pleads Guilty to Molesting 9-Year-Old Student
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A 71-year-old music teacher who ran three music schools for children in Manhattan admitted in court on Thursday that he had molested a 9-year-old girl under his tutelage, pleading guilty to forcible sexual conduct against a child in return for a two-year sentence, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.
The teacher, Ilya Lehman, a naturalized citizen from Russia, admitted to Justice Jill Konviser in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that he had touched the girl’s genitals on two occasions in April 2013 during private piano lessons at the girl’s home on the Upper West Side. Mr. Lehman will be formally sentenced on Feb. 25 at 9:30 a.m.
“Mr. Lehman himself does not fully understand how it came about that he engaged in this conduct,” said his defense lawyer, Raymond R. Granger. (Gotta love these shysters!)
“But he is deeply, deeply remorseful about it.”
In addition to the two years in prison, Mr. Lehman will be sentenced to five years of probation after he is released, under a deal with prosecutors.
In October, an assistant district attorney, Nahal Batmanghelidj, said investigators had identified two other victims. But no charges were filed, and during Mr. Lehman’s bail hearings and other court appearances, prosecutors presented no evidence that he had molested other students.
For nearly two decades, Mr. Lehman operated three branches of a music and dance school, The Early Ear, on the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan. The schools offered classes for children from 4 months to 5 years old and were modeled, he said, on a program he created in the former Soviet Union. He has a doctorate in music from a conservatory in Moscow and founded the schools in 1992. He sold them after his arrest last year.
Mr. Lehman will remain free on $300,000 bail until his sentencing. He has surrendered his passport and wears a monitoring bracelet on his ankle.
After the girl’s parents first confronted him with the allegations, Mr. Lehman returned to Russia, made a brief trip back to New York, then flew back to Russia again. He was arrested on July 15 at Kennedy International Airport when he returned after three months.