A LEADING Roman Catholic school has been rocked by abuse allegations after a music professor appeared in court accused of sex offences against a girl more than 30 years his junior.

Irish-born classical musician and composer Dara De Cogan, 57, was appointed performing arts professor at Ampleforth College, North Yorkshire, in 2004.

The gifted violinist is charged with 12 counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.

The court heard the victim was a girl aged 16 and 17 at the time of the alleged offences between December 2007 and December 2009.

De Cogan was in court for the first time on Monday, appearing before magistrates in Scarborough.

The grey-haired and bearded professor said he wanted to reserve his pleas until he had taken legal advice.

The magistrates heard that the offences could be tried either in the lower court or at the Crown Court but prosecutor Alison Whiteley said: “The Crown would say these matters are not suitable for summary trial.

“There is an obvious age disparity of more than 30 years.”

She added each of the 12 offences carried a maximum penalty of between 12 and 18 months in jail.

The bench directed the case be heard at York Crown Court and De Cogan, of Kilburn, near Thirsk, was bailed to appear there on February 13.

Wearing a suit and tie, he stood with his hands clasped in front of him during the ten-minute hearing.

On leaving court, he pulled his Barbour jacket over his head to hide his face from photographers

Dublin-born De Cogan, became leader of the Irish Youth Orchestra in 1978 and represented his country in the European Community Youth Orchestra.

In 1982, he joined the Hallé Orchestra and has played in folk music ensembles and has worked widely in the recording industry.

His court appearance came just weeks after it was confirmed Ampleforth is to be included in one of three public hearings carried out in the national child sexual abuse inquiry.