David Lewis, a former Opera Australia chorus member, has been sentenced to three years in prison for historic child sex offences. Lewis, who was a permanent member of the Opera Australia chorus for 25 years – and whose most recent appearance for Opera Australia was in 2017’s Two Weddings, One Bride – pleaded guilty in March to two counts of sexual intercourse with a person aged between 10 and 16, judge Sarah Huggett also taking into account three further charges of aggravated indecent assault in the sentencing.
David Lewis. Photograph © Opera Australia
The offences occurred between 1993 and 1995 when Lewis was in his mid-30s. The victim was 14 and 15 years old at the time and a member of the Opera Australia children’s chorus. While a number of assaults occurred at the Sydney Opera House – one witnessed by a crew member, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, and another by Opera Australia’s dance captain and ballet master, according to the ABC. Lewis also drove the victim to his house where he assaulted her in his spa, the court heard.
No action was taken against Lewis when the crew member who witnessed his behaviour reported it to the chorus master, however Opera Australia – then the Australian Opera Company – employed a childminder to “keep the children away from the adults and the adults away from the children,” according to court documents.
Opera Australia told the ABC it was unable to find any official record of the incident. “Opera Australia has cooperated fully with the police authorities since they approached the Company and will continue to do so,” CEO Rory Jeffes said in an official statement issued to Opera Australia staff last year, adding that there was “no record of any allegations of this nature against David Lewis being reported to Opera Australia.”
In sentencing Lewis, Huggett said: “The offending only stopped because the offender was caught, not because he realised the inappropriateness of his conduct,” finding that Lewis “deliberately took advantage of [the victim’s] relative emotional immaturity,” the ABC reported.
“I have no doubt [Lewis] is remorseful in so far as it affects himself,” Huggett said.
Lewis will serve at least two years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2020. He was taken into custody following the sentencing.