Gainesville violin instructor charged with child molestation
HALL COUNTY, Ga. - It's a small musical studio known as Oxford Academy of Classical Studies. For more than a decade, investigators said 85-year-old Leon Messerlian taught violin at the location without any reported problems until the other day.
"They had a bunch of cop cars here. I don't know a whole lot. I wish they were wrong," said Harry Caughman, a business neighbor.
Investigators said they executed search warrants at the business and at Messerlian's Hall County home. They took the action after the parents of one of his students, a 12-year-old boy, came forward with allegations he inappropriately touched their son.
"We have a lot of electronic devices that we have to go through at this time," said Investigator Nicole Bailes with the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
She would not give specifics of the evidence gathered, but does say authorities are concerned because Messerlian has been teaching violin to both children and adults at the same place for 14 years.
"We want to reach out to other people that may have been clients of Mr. Messerlian that feel like their children may have been victimized," said Investigator Bailes.
However, the property manager of the small complex where Messerlian has his business defended the musical teacher.
"I do know when he had students in class, if the parents wasn't in the room with him, the door was open," said Boyd Helm.
The property manager also says Messerlian is a well-educated and traveled man. He and neighbors all spoke of how Messerlian told them he is a Harvard graduate and was on an advisory board with Oxford University in England.
The property manager said he trusted Messerlian with his children.
"My kids have gone through his classes, my kids friends. We have a network of many people that have gone through his classes and I just believe these accusations are false," said Boyd Helm.
But one of the volunteers at The Way, a ministry helping homeless in the same complex as the 85 year old, wasn't as trusting.
"I got grandkids of my own and I know if it was mine I'd be very, very upset about it," said David Gaddis.
Leon Messerlian is being held at the Hall County Jail without bond. He's been charged with child molestation, sexual battery and Enticing a child for indecent purposes. The 85-year- old is scheduled to make a court appearance for a committal hearing on August 14.