‘This is our secret’: Retired choirmaster who sexually abused boys jailed for 12 years

‘You hid a dark paedophile inclination which was to blight the life of those boys’

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 27 August 2019 19:24 BST
Kenneth Francis, 72, was jailed for 12 years for sexually abusing four boys while working at a school in Chelmsford in the 1970s.
Kenneth Francis, 72, was jailed for 12 years for sexually abusing four boys while working at a school in Chelmsford in the 1970s.

A retired school choirmaster who “hid a dark paedophile inclination” has been jailed for sexually abusing four boys.

Former teacher Kenneth Francis, 72, sexually assaulted the boys, all under the age of 16, while they were pupils at a school in Chelmsford, Essex, during the 1970s.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how he touched the pupils’ genitals and told one of them “this is our secret”.

The attacks happened at the school and at Francis’ then home in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, between 1972 and 1979, with Francis giving alcohol to some of his victims.

Jailing him on Tuesday, Judge David Turner QC said: “Behind the facade of competency, respectability and uprightness you hid a dark paedophile inclination which was to blight the life of those boys and leave a profound legacy of psychological damage.”

Francis’ offending came to light in 2017 when one of his victims reported that he had sexually assaulted him.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, one man said he “resented” being at the school.

Another said he felt he was “betraying” his parents by not telling them what had happened and “only managed to tell them a few years prior to their deaths”.

Defending, Jacqueline Carey said Francis later moved to Jersey and for “30 years or the best part thereof he was a highly regarded man”, adding that there was an “absence of offending” for this period.

She said he lived with his husband in Japan but that there was “great uncertainty about whether he will be able to return” following his conviction.

He has no living relatives, she added.

Francis, of Akasaka, Tokyo, denied 15 counts of indecent assault and two counts of committing an act of gross indecency but was found guilty by a jury.

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He was jailed for 12 years and will serve half in custody and the rest on licence.

He must also sign the sex offenders’ register for life and was given a 12-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, banning him from contact with any boy under 16.

Press Association contributed to this report.

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