Essex

Chelmsford choirmaster Kenneth Francis guilty of abusing choirboys

Kenneth Francis Image copyright Jersey Evening Post
Image caption Kenneth Francis was found guilty on all 17 counts

A former boarding school choirmaster has been found guilty of abusing four boys.

Kenneth Francis, 72, assaulted the choristers while a teacher at Widford Lodge Boarding School in Chelmsford in the 1970s.

Francis, of Pepys Court, Cambridge, was found guilty of 15 counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency after a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

He will be sentenced on 27 August.

He was on trial alongside Malcolm Archer, of North Wootton, Somerset, who was cleared of two counts of indecent assault.

The 67-year-old was suspended as director of chapel music at Winchester College late in 2017 and subsequently left the school.

Abuser 'rated performance'

Francis assaulted boys who were members of the school choir between 1972 and 1979.

He had kissed pupils during one-to-one lessons before touching their genitals, the court heard.

One of Francis's victims said during the trial that he had been abused beneath the school stage then given reward stars by the choirmaster, which he told police were "for my performance under the stage".

One of the men abused by Francis said it had taken many years for him to speak about what had happened.

"The psychological scarring is something that I have had to struggle with growing up, but it never heals," he said.

"You just learn to live with it, as a dark part of yourself that you try to keep hidden away.

"Now I am able to let it rest for what it is."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites