Ben Breakwell, 40, allegedly struck up illegal relationships with two girls when they were aged 13 and 14, and is accused of orchestrating a series of sexual encounters at his London home.
Breakwell, a tenor who has performed concerts around the world, insists he did not have sex with the teenagers and denies a further claim that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.
In one message one of the girls told Mr Breakwell “I’m legal!” as she reached her 16th birthday, but he told Isleworth crown court it was an “inappropriate” remark that he tried to ignore.
Asked if he was alarmed as the expressions of affection increased, Breakwell said: “There was a part of me that thought ‘I’ve kind of given a green light to this sort of inappropriate conversation.” He said he thought it was a “joke” when the girl said she loved him.
“I was kind of engaging in the joke in a way that I shouldn’t have,” he said. Asked why he had replied “love you too”, Breakwell said: “I was trying to sort of carry on this joke. I was trying to carry on the informality, the theatricality of it. I heard it in a theatrical luvvy voice — ‘love ya darling’ — not ‘I love you’.”
It is said he groomed both the teenagers for sex by inviting them gradually into his personal life, and then pretending it was unexpected when he would “make his move”.
When one of the girls messaged him saying “F*** me?”, Breakwell told the court he “didn’t take it literally”. He said the alleged sexual assault of the 16-year-old was nothing more than a misinterpreted attempt to give her a hug. He told jurors he had a four-year relationship with another girl which started when she was 16 and he was 30.
Breakwell, who lives in Monkgate, York, denies 22 charges of sexual activity with a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, four charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, a count of sexual assault and two allegations of taking indecent photographs of a child. The trial continues.
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