Victims of ex-choirmaster Mark Burgess speak out against 'manipulative paedophile'
THE victims of an ex-choirmaster who abused children for more than 30 years have spoken out about their scarring experiences – and told him he will only be remembered as a ‘manipulative paedophile who preyed on the innocent’.
Today , 68-year-old Mark Burgess was found guilty of 48 'horrendous’ sex offences against children following an 11-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.
The offences relate to 13 children in total, who were under the age of 16, during Burgess’s time as a choirmaster for the All Saints church choir in Portsmouth, and Westbourne Choir in Sussex between 1975 and 2009.
Following his conviction by the jury, some of those survivors have released a joint statement.
They said: ‘The extent of Mark Burgess’s abuse on all of us has been shocking and has turned our worlds upside down.
‘Having to bury such a dark secret for decades, only to have to relive it all again has been indescribable. Bringing up the past and coming to terms with what has happened at the hands of this monster has not been easy.
‘The abuse was horrific and calculated.’
Burgess had taught at Portsmouth City Boys’ School and also ran choirs in St John’s church in Westbourne, Sussex, and All Saints church in Commercial Road in Portsmouth.
The court heard that, over the years, his attention became ‘fixed’ on a series of children.
The survivors added: ‘The abuse has left a legacy of suspicion and a reluctance to readily trust people.
‘Innocent vulnerable children have had their childhoods wrecked by one man's depravity. Knowing now that others had been targeted and were not immune is heart-breaking.
‘We have carried the hidden scars of guilt and shame, but we are better and stronger than him. We are valid and cared for human beings who are worthy of love and respect.’
Operation Marmion is Hampshire Constabulary’s dedicated team who tackle non-recent child sex abuse perpetrated within an institution or by a person of prominence.
It was this operation that caught Burgess and helped bring him to justice.
The group also had a stern message for their abuser.
‘You have built yourself up to believe you are an accomplished musician and teacher, but from today, you will only ever be remembered as a manipulative paedophile who preyed on the innocent,’ they said.