Paedophile choirmaster who abused 14 boys is jailed for 12 years

Paedophile choirmaster, 70, who sexually abused 14 boys as young as nine to show them ‘discipline’ then rewarded them with money, sweets and alcohol is jailed for 12 years

  • Richard Owen, 70, sexually abused 14 boys as young as nine at churches
  • Choirmaster ‘preyed’ on the children before ‘betraying their trust’
  • He would attack them to show them ‘discipline’ then reward them with alcohol
  • The paedophile admitted 27 offences and has been jailed for 12 years 

A paedophile choirmaster who sexually abused 14 boys as young as nine at churches over a 30-year period has been jailed.

Richard Owen, also known as Franklyn Stanowski, ‘preyed’ on the ‘young and innocent children’ after they joined the choir at churches in Winsford, Knutsford and Altrincham – before ‘betraying their trust for his own sexual gratification’ and assaulting them out of sight of adults.

The 70-year-old, from Winsford, admitted 27 offences of indecent assault of boys under 16 between 1968 and 1998 and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. However, Chester Crown Court has heard that the choirmaster had committed hundreds of offences over the decades.

Owen would often offer to take the boys, who are now aged between 38 and 63, to church in his car, provide some of them with extra tuition as well as take them on trips away, the court heard.

They would be subjected to the abuse as acts of ‘discipline’, with the choirmaster telling them they had been naughty.

Afterwards he would give them money, hand over sweets, alcohol or take them out for meals. On occasions he would be seen standing outside their homes, watching and waiting for them.

Richard Owen, also known as Franklyn Stanowski, ‘preyed’ on the ‘young and innocent children’ after they joined the choir at churches in Winsford, Knutsford and Altrincham – before ‘betraying their trust for his own sexual gratification’ and assaulting them out of sight of adults

The abuse first began at St John’s Over in Winsford involving a boy until the paedophile left and began working at St Cross in Knutsford until 1980. During this time a nine-year-old boy caught the predator’s attention as well as a further three boys.

In the late 1980s Owen was a choirmaster at St John’s in Altrincham and remained in this role until 1998. As part of his work he also volunteered at a local primary school teaching the children to sing as well as attending school trips to recruit the boys to join the choir.

It is during this time that he abused numerous boys, with hundreds of occurrences taking place over many years.

The abuse left the boys terrified and scared. It led them to either withdraw from the choir, or leave the area in which they lived to get away from him. In some cases, his victims believed his actions were normal.

Cheshire Constabulary’s investigation into Owen’s crimes began following a past cases review into allegations of sexual abuse which was commissioned by the Church of England. Owen was arrested on March 25, 2020 and subsequently charged in January this year. 

Owen would often offer to take the boys to church in his car, provide some of them with extra tuition as well as take them on trips away, Chester Crown Court (pictured) heard

Sentencing, Judge Leeming still considered Owen a dangerous offender and a risk to young boys.

Detective Inspector Dave Hutcheon, of Cheshire Constabulary’s major investigation teams, said: ‘Owen preyed on young and innocent children betraying their trust for his own sexual gratification while also becoming infatuated and obsessed with them.

‘The decades of abuse and his behaviour deeply affected so many boys in many ways and continued into their adulthood.

‘The investigation has been long and, at times, difficult in order to identify and speak to those who suffered Owen’s abuse. Investigations like these carry an important message – if you have been a victim of abuse it doesn’t matter how long ago it took place, what matters is the courage to come forward and talk about it.

‘These men have shown that courage to speak about their ordeal more than 50 years later to ensure Owen is held accountable for what he did.’

Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse can contact Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or visit their website. Information can also be given anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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