MURRIETA — A former school principal at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar pled not guilty on Thursday, Jan. 23, to three counts of molesting a teenage girl nearly 30 years ago.
Originally charged by investigators on July 21, 2019, Laverne Paul Fox, 61, was arrested in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 29 and extradited to Riverside County on charges of lewd acts on a child, oral copulation of a minor and forced sexual penetration of a child under 16 years old.
With his alleged victim, Kathy Durbin, present in the courtroom, Fox pled not guilty during his arraignment Thursday before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon.
“I was happy to see a step forward because I feel like the wheels of justice are super slow and sometimes maybe even go reverse,” Durbin said in a phone interview on the way back to her home in Montana.
“I’ve been showing up every month waiting for him to be arraigned,” she said. “And every month that’s been delay, delay, delay. In December the judge actually called both the district attorney and (Fox’s) defense attorney into chambers. And when they came out, he was, you could kind of tell he was not happy about another delay and he made it very clear — January 23 — we would be arguing the Demurrer.”
A Demurrer is “a written response to a complaint filed in a lawsuit which, in effect, pleads for dismissal on the point that even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, there is no legal basis for a lawsuit,” according to dictionary.law.com.
“They argued, it was super intense because it was over one day, one single calendar day is what they were arguing over,” Durbin said. “There was something about a three-year statute of limitations. One of the crimes has to do with me being 14 and 15 and I was 15 from January 1st 1991 to May 24th of 1991.
“They had that window to charge him with this crime, the specific crime. I think it had something to do with him being 10 years older than me or something.
“But they argued it and it was pretty intense and crazy,” she said. “But the judge sided with the DA and so he was then officially arraigned.”
The charges against Fox stem from his interactions during his time as a principal at Faith Baptist Academy in 1990.
According to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Glenn Warrington, detectives became aware of Fox’s alleged offenses while conducting a separate investigation into the sexual abuse of three teenage girls by another youth pastor, Malo Victor Monteiro of Colton.
In a story previously published by the Valley News, according to one of Monteiro’s victims, the legend of the alleged abuse involving Fox and the alleged victim Kathy Durbin was used by Monteiro to manipulate at least three young girls to keep his sexual relationships with them quiet.
She said the reason Monteiro knew so much about Fox was that he was married to the Durbin’s sister.
“He told me about how there was another staff member at Faith Baptist that had an affair – these were his words, not mine as an adult man cannot have an affair with an underage girl – with a teenage girl,” Monteiro victim Rachel Peach said. “When they were caught he didn’t get in trouble, but instead, she lost all her friends. It planted a seed in me that if I ever say anything about him that is what will happen to me. If the right steps were taken at that time, what Paul Fox did to (name omitted), Victor would’ve never been able to use that situation to his advantage to sexually assault underage girls.”
Monteiro, who committed the crimes while employed by the Faith Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to seven sex-related felonies and was sentenced to five years and four months in state prison.
During Thursday’s arraignment of Fox, Judge Gallon scheduled a felony settlement conference for March 9 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
“I’m a little apprehensive of the whole justice system anyway,” Durbin said. “I mean, Victor had seven felony charges that he pled guilty to and he got five years and four months. We don’t even have seven charges to go after. So, I mean, how much time is he really going to get? I feel like the justice system is a lot unlevel in that case because victims are always given a life sentence and then the perpetrators get, what a year? Six months, five years? It’s just never enough.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.