Convicted Sex Offender Faces More Charges For Allegedly Attacking Local Teens
Published: January 13th, 2023
By: Tyler Murphy

NORWICH – The Norwich Police Department has filed several charges against a convicted sex offender and rapist who authorities believe was responsible for sexually motivated attacks on two teen victims in the last two weeks.

The Chenango County Sheriff's Office and Norwich Police Department are investigating the separate incidents, one that occurred on a downtown Norwich street and another that happen inside a local store.

On Thursday afternoon, detectives of the NPD charged Shawn M. Fowlston, 38, of 33 North Broad Street, Apt. 3, Norwich, with the following crimes: first degree unlawful imprisonment, a Class ‘E’ Felony; third degree criminal possession of a weapon, a D felony; second degree menacing and endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanor.

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Norwich Police Chief Rodney Marsh said, “On Monday, January 2nd at approximately 8:15 p.m., the Norwich Police Department responded to apartments on North Broad Street after it was reported an individual had been grabbed and threatened with a knife. Officers responded and located a very distraught 16-year-old victim. It was reported that the victim had been grabbed, forced into a common area of the apartments, and threatened at knifepoint. During this incident, a tenant of a nearby apartment heard the commotion and came out to the common area. The suspect then released the victim and fled the scene.”

Police were searching for the suspect but on January 9, another victim about the same age was attacked in the toy section of a local department store. An investigation by the Chenango County Sheriff's Office and other agencies found surveillance evidence of the second attack and arrested Fowlston a day later.

The same day the sheriff arrested him, the NPD received a search warrant and searched Fowlston's home where they reported finding additional evidence relating to the first attack. Police also said witnesses had provided useful information.

Fowlston was reported to be on lifetime parole over previous convictions and was wearing a GPS tracking ankle monitor when he allegedly committed the attacks.

Police said the attacks were unusually brazen and compulsive and there was no previous connection between Fowlston and the victims.

Chenango County Sheriff's Lt. Dustin Smietana said the attacks were very dramatic and stressful events for victims. He said police spared no effort in the investigation and worked constantly to find the suspect.

The Sheriff's Office has also charged Fowlston with second degree sexual abuse, forcible touching, second degree unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child.

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Chief Marsh said, “The detectives worked diligently on this case and were able to make the arrest in a relatively short period of time. We also want to thank the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation.”

The chief said the victims in the incidents responded well, by refusing to leave with the suspect and crying for help.

He offered advice to residents if they find themselves in a similar situation.

“First, use common sense. Be verbally assertive and attempt to distract the attacker. If you are able, run toward an open business or groups of people. Yell loudly and keep it up to attract attention from people close by. If you are able to, run and hide. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule as to self-defense,” he said. “Thankfully, the victim did everything right in this incident and was able to escape without any injuries.”

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, investigators said a social worker was attacked while checking on Fowlston's children. During the visit, prosecutors said 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.

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.