Kelowna piano teacher, accused of sexual assault, says it ‘never’ happened

Kelowna piano teacher Neil Nein-Nein Wong has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault.

The Kelowna, B.C., piano teacher who is accused of sexually touching one of his young students says nothing inappropriate ever happened.

Neil Nein-Nein Wong, 55, testified in his own defence on the second day of his trial for sexual assault and sexual interference on Friday, telling the court that it was his child accuser who was physically affectionate and that he never touched the girl inappropriately.

Wong said the child’s hugging was something that surprised him on their first lesson, which was held in his home, like all others.

“I said, ‘Here’s the workbook that you’re going to be learning from’ and she was really excited and she just reached around, and I was sitting beside her on the bench, and she reached around and gave me a hug,” he said.

Read more: Kelowna piano teacher pleads not guilty to sexual assault

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He said most of his students don’t hug, particularly upon first meeting him, so he was “taken aback.”

Wong said he told the girl’s dad, who was sitting in another room throughout the lesson, about the spontaneous show of affection.

The dad, he said, told him it wasn’t a surprise.

“(He said) something to the effect of, ‘That’s totally OK, we’re a huggy family and we just kind of raised our kids to be like that.'”

Click to play video: 'Students call for better response to sexual assaults'
Students call for better response to sexual assaults

From there, Wong said, he reciprocated hugs when the child gave them. He also said he never initiated them and never touched the girl’s backside during one of these hugs — one of the allegations against him.

When asked how many times they hugged over the course of their 27 lessons, he estimated about half that amount.

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On the first day of the trial, the girl told the court that Wong looped his arm around her, under her shirt, and would rub up and down from her chest to her stomach.

It was the report of this that moved her parents to withdraw her from lessons and make a report to police.

Read more: Kelowna piano teacher pleads not guilty to sexual assault

Wong said he did touch the girl’s back, and the front of her shoulder, to put her in the correct posture for playing the piano but that’s it.

“My left finger goes into the small of the back and then the right finger goes into that little divot in the shoulder and I just get a little pressure and say, ‘Sit up’ and that usually corrects it,” he said.

When asked under cross-examination whether he touched the child’s chest area, Wong said, “Absolutely not.”

Wong, who was joined in court by his wife and child, said his life changed the day RCMP issued a news release alerting the community to the allegations and asking for any additional potential victims to come forward — something that has yet to happen.

He went from having 25 students to two, and was ousted from the charitable and church organizations he once participated in, he said.

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Testifying from the Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre on the first day of the trial, the girl told the court the touching happened first when she was sitting next to Wong on the piano bench.

Click to play video: 'Kingston Teacher Charged'
Kingston Teacher Charged

To make it stop, the child said she asked Wong to get her some water and he obliged. After having a glass of water, the lesson would resume. The unwelcome touch resumed as well, the girl said.

On another occasion, the child said Wong hugged her in a way that made her uncomfortable.

“He would hug me and touch my bum and I didn’t like it … He would pick me up and pat my bum in a way I didn’t like.”

The trial was scheduled only for two days.

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Wong was employed as a music teacher at Kelowna Secondary School until 2013.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, support is available: 

  • The Department of Justice Victim Services Directory includes a list of support services in your area.
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) Available 24/7 or Text CONNECT 686868

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