An Omaha violin teacher accused of digitally penetrating a student said during a recent phone call monitored by police that he had the girl sit on his lap during lessons, officials said.
Michael B. Godfrey, 77, faces charges of first-degree and third-degree sexual assault of a child. If convicted of both, he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.
In court Tuesday, Douglas County Judge Darryl Lowe asked Godfrey whether he understood the charges against him.
“I understand it’s very serious, sir,” Godfrey responded.
“Common sense would tell you it’s serious,” Lowe said. “You’re 77 years old.”
Lowe ordered Godfrey held on $50,000 bail, meaning Godfrey would have to post $5,000 to be released. Godfrey’s attorney, Clarence Mock, had told Lowe that Godfrey could afford that and by Tuesday evening, he was no longer at the Douglas County Jail.
Godfrey is accused of digitally penetrating the girl and touching other body parts several times about four to six years ago at his home near 52nd and Izard Streets.
After Tuesday’s hearing, Mock said Godfrey denies the allegation and said the girl is “conjuring” the alleged assaults.
“The victim’s credibility will be an issue, as the accusations are historical in nature,” Mock said.
The girl, now 14, was about 8 to 10 years old at the time of the alleged assaults, prosecutor Anthony Clowe said. Her father reported to Omaha police in November that his daughter had said she was assaulted by Godfrey. The family now lives in another state.
In a police interview, the girl said Godfrey would have her sit on his lap, then he would put his hand down her pants and digitally penetrate her vagina and touch her belly button and hips. He would tell her, “I don’t do this with any of my other students,” according to a court document.
When the girl reached eighth grade, she told police, she used a classmate’s cellphone to call Godfrey and confront him. She told officers that Godfrey blamed the abuse on her, and she became angry and hung up.
Omaha police listened in on and recorded a recent phone call between the girl and Godfrey and were able to “confirm and corroborate that Godfrey gave this victim violin lessons and had her sit on his lap and treated her different than others,” according to an affidavit.
Authorities met with Godfrey on July 4 and asked to talk to him about the investigation. Godfrey told police that his lawyer told him not to talk. Officers then took Godfrey into custody on the child sex assault charges.
Godfrey has continued to teach children, but Lowe has ordered that to stop if he posts bail. Godfrey was ordered to have no contact with any minor who isn’t a family member.
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