Recent Attacks On Local Teens Lead Police To Convicted Sex Offender
Published: January 12th, 2023
By: Tyler Murphy

Recent attacks on local teens lead police to convicted sex offender The Chenango County Sheriff's Office and Norwich Police Department are investigating two separate sexual attacks on teen victims in Norwich. (Photo by Tyler Murphy)

NORWICH – A convicted sex offender and rapist on parole was arrested this week. Police say he may be responsible for making sexually motivated attacks on two different young teen girls in the last 10 days.

The Chenango County Sheriff's Office and Norwich Police Department are investigating the separate incidents which involved two different victims. Investigators said the attacks were made at random and the suspect had no connection to the victims.

According to information from police a 16-year-old waiting for a food delivery was sexually harassed and then attacked with a knife at about 10 p.m. on January 2 in downtown Norwich.

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Norwich Police Detective Sgt. Reuben Roach said, “The victim was waiting for a food delivery on North Broad Street when they were approach by an individual who made sexual advances before taking out a knife and putting it to the victim's throat.”

A neighbor heard the victim scream and confronted the attacker with his dog. The suspect released the victim and fled.

About a week later on January 9, another victim about the same age was attacked in the toy section of a local department store.

Chenango County Sheriff's Lt. Dustin Smietana said the victim was at a store with family and was stalked and then attacked.

Police said the attacker grabbed the victim and attempted to drag her away but she cried out for help and an employee intervened and the suspect fled the store.

“On the evening of January 9, the Chenango County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a local business for a report of child endangerment. As the investigation ensued it was determined that a juvenile victim inside of the business was forcibly subjected to contact by an unknown male suspect,” reported Smietana. “The victim had been shopping with their family and was in a different location in the business when this alleged act occurred.”

Smietana said the business was very helpful and digital media and surveillance cameras had aided greatly in the investigation.

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Following an intensive search and investigation involving assistance from several agencies the Chenango County Sheriff's Office arrested Shawn M. Fowlston, 38, of Norwich on Jan. 10.

Deputies charged him with second degree sexual abuse, forcible touching, second degree unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child.

At the time of his arrest Fowlston was on parole and wearing an ankle bracket with a GPS monitor.

Fowlston is a convicted level 3 sex offender who pleaded guilty to attacking and sexual abusing a social worker who was checking on his children in 2010.

At the time in 2010, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Dunshee said the victim was working for a local organization and was scheduled to meet with the defendant’s four- and six-year-old children in relation to a school program. During the visit, Dunshee claims Fowlston, engaged in “suggestive conversation,” and then grabbed the woman, ripping her shirt, covering her mouth and sexually molesting her. Prosecutors also said Fowlston kept the woman from leaving the residence. She eventually was able to talk her way out and called police.

Fowlston pleaded guilty in March 2012 to first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in state prison with 10 year post release supervision.

He also plead guilty to third degree rape in a plea deal in another case in 2013, after initially being charged with first degree rape. His sentence was combined with his previous crime, meaning he served no additional time for that offense.

Following Fowlston's arrest by the sheriff this week the Norwich Police Department executed a search at his Norwich residence Wednesday and are preparing to charged him with a number of other crimes relating to the January 2 attack in the city.

Police said they recovered evidence and more charges are expected.

Fowlston was remanded to the Chenango County Jail without bail for violating his New York State Parole. He was additionally remanded on a $1,000 cash bail over the recent charges.

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According to police Fowlston is on lifetime civil confinement parole.