THE former owner and ex-manager of a children’s home are facing a total of 26 charges of historical sexual abuse of young boys.

The alleged offences are believed to have taken place at the Old Rectory Children’s Home in Church Road, Singleton, between 35 and 44 years ago.

John Michael Webber, 77, retired, of Clifton Hill, Brighton, and Don Grasty, 94, retired, of Beach Road, Selsey, have now been charged and summonsed to appear at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, February 6.

The charges allege that they committed the offences against eight boys aged between nine and 15.

The alleged abuse is said to have taken place at the long since closed privately run children’s home between 1974 and 1983.

Webber, who was owner of the home during the period of the alleged offences, faces 12 charges.

He faces seven of indecent assault, two of gross indecency and three of serious sexual assault – almost all involving multiple incidents allegedly committed against five boys.

Grasty, who was a manager at the home during the same period, faces 14 charges – ten of indecent assault, three of gross indecency, and one of serious sexual assault, again almost all involving multiple incidents.

Grasty allegedly committed the offences against five boys. Two of the boys are alleged to have been victims of both men.

An investigation by the Sussex Police Complex Abuse Unit led to the two men being charged. A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Police emphasise that the premises closed as a children’s home in the late 1980s and that any management or occupants of the address since that time have no connection whatsoever with this case.”

The old children’s home, set in a quiet village on the outskirts of Chichester, has most recently been used as a residential care home – housing up to 19 people with a range of learning difficulties at a time.

Webber was reported missing by police on the afternoon of April 13 last year after going missing from his home.

Police said at the time he was going to the bank in North Street, Brighton, but did not go back to his house for dinner that evening.

He was found the following morning.