During a preliminary hearing on Friday, Jan. 8, Laverne Paul Fox pled guilty to two felony sexual abuse counts brought upon by the Riverside County District Attorney’s office stemming from his arrest related to sexual assault allegations just fewer than 30 years earlier during his time working at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar.
Fox will remain out of custody and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30 by Judge Mark Mandio. He faces up to three years and eight months for his crimes.
Fox pled guilty to counts 1 and 2 in the complaint, and according to Riverside County District Attorney Public Information Officer John Hall, “we dismissed count 3, due to legal requirements regarding the statute of limitations and we were not able to proceed with the prosecution of that count.
“The defendant pled guilty to the court (meaning it was not a plea agreement with our office),” Hall said.
Fox pled guilty to Count 1, Sexual Penetration with a foreign object, which charged that “the defendant did cause the penetration ofthe genital and anal opening of “Jane Doe,” a person under the age of 18 years, with a foreign object, substance, instrument and device for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification and abuse.”
He also pled guilty to Count 2, Lewd Act Child 14/15 Years (and) Defendant 10 years older, which charged “the defendant did willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body and certain parts and members thereof of ‘Jane Doe,’ a child who is fourteen and fifteen years old and more than ten years younger than the defendant.”
Fox, 61, was arrested Jan. 23, 2020, in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 29 and extradited to Riverside County on charges of molesting Kathy Durbin. Initially, Fox pled not guilty to all three charges.
On Friday, Durbin said she was somewhat surprised by Fox’s guilty plea, but then again, the entire process for the current Montana resident was enlightening.
When she was first asked to give her accounts of what happened to her, it was during an investigation into Victor Monteiro, Durbin’s brother-in-law, who was accused and later convicted of sexually abusing three teenage girls when he was working as a youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church.
“I didn’t expect it to go anywhere,” Durbin said. “It wasn’t until they started investigating mine that I thought, what, wait, this is so old. I can’t believe this is going to be investigated. I kept waiting for them to say, ‘Oh, sorry, it’s been too long.’ And they just kept going forward with the process, even to the point of flying out, interviewing him, having me do a pretext call.
“Finally they sent it to the DA for charges and then I thought, ‘Okay, this is for sure it.’ I can remember clearly the day they called and said that they were going to press charges. I think it was in that moment that I realized he had taken all of my self-worth and the DA was saying, ‘You are worth justice.’”
Durbin first publicly explained a battle she had been waging within herself over the past 28 years on Aug. 1, 2018, in a lengthy Facebook story. It was a story she hadn’t planned on telling.
“I am telling my story to pave the way for other women and girls to feel empowered to do the same,” Durbin wrote back then. “I want this kind of behavior to stop and if it occurs to not be covered up.”
She went on to describe, in detail, the story of how she said she was molested all those years ago by Fox. She described how she said he groomed her over time. Her relationship with Fox and his family, and how Faith Baptist Church Pastor Bruce Goddard, she said, covered up Fox’s crimes.
In what has been nearly a year since Fox was first arrested, Durbin said she has learned a lot.
“You learn a lot about the justice system,” she said. “You learn that justice is not necessarily just, I think for victims. You’re given a life sentence. So there’s no matching that with these kinds of crimes because they’re not going to be given a life sentence.
“But I felt like there were so many women reaching out to me saying because you were telling your story, I’ve had the courage to tell mine. So it kind of just gives you the confidence to keep going because you feel like you’re fighting for every victim of child sexual abuse.”
Though Friday was a little bit anticlimactic for her, she is proud of what happened in the courtroom.
“Today was not what I expected it to be, but I mean, it’s a huge step for all victims of sexual abuse,” Durbin said. “This case is 30 years old. That’s a huge statement, at least in Riverside County, that they are willing to go back and prosecute those crimes. They’re saying victims deserve justice. I think today was a victory for me, for sure. But it was a huge victory for every victim of child sexual abuse.”
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.