The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
(Previous posts about Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California and its pastor Bruce Goddard: Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo Victor Monteiro Accused of Sexual Abuse, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Victor Monteiro Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Crimes, Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Malo “Victor” Monteiro Sentenced to Five Years in Prison, and Pastor Bruce Goddard and His Bait and Switch Tactics)
Former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian school principal Laverne Fox was arrested on July 1, 2019, in Erie, Pennsylvania. Fox was later extradited to California where he faced two counts of lewd acts with a child and two other sexual misconduct charges.
Fox was the principal at the private school operated by Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported:
After his [Laverne Fox] accuser, Kathy Durbin, told pastor Bruce Goddard in 1992 about the sexual abuse and grooming she faced over a span of two years by Fox, Goddard moved Fox to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.
Durbin told the Star-Telegram that Fox began grooming her for sex at a young age. In public Facebook posts, she wrote how she thought she had a father-daughter type relationship with Fox.
She realized later that was part of the grooming, she wrote. Fox began having sex with her when she was 15.
During the 1992 conversation with Goddard, Durbin said she dramatically told him that Fox and her had kissed so he would know something more was happening. She was disturbed and confused by the encounters.
Durbin was later forced to attend counseling and write an apology to Fox’s wife.
In January 2021, Fox pleaded guilty to lewd acts on a minor and sexual penetration of a child under 16 years old and was later sentenced to two years in prison.
The former principal of Wildomar’s Faith Baptist Academy pleaded guilty Friday, Jan. 8, to molesting a teenage student who babysat for his family more than 30 years ago.
Laverne Paul Fox, 61, who also formerly served as the bus director for the affiliated Faith Baptist Church, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual abuse involving a minor before Judge Mark Mandio at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. Fox is scheduled for sentencing on April 30, and faces a maximum of four years, eight months in prison, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Fox initially was charged with three felony counts, but one of the charges was dropped because the statute of limitations for that specific offense, oral copulation with a minor, had expired, Hall said.
“It’s taken 30 years to get to this day. I had my doubts that I would ever get to see it,” said Fox’s victim, Kathy Durbin, in a statement Friday. She was in court Friday, where Fox was scheduled for a preliminary hearing before he pleaded guilty. “Today was not just a victory for me, it was a victory for every victim of childhood sexual abuse,” she said.
Fox was one of two men arrested in connection with a sex abuse scandal at the church spanning nearly 20 years — from 1990 through 2010. The scandal was exposed in 2018 when Durbin and victims of former youth pastor Malo Victor Monteiro went public on social media with their stories. Fox’s and Montiero’s victims claim longtime church pastor Bruce Goddard and his wife, Tammy, were well aware of the sexual abuse allegations but did not report Fox or Monteiro to police. Instead, they transferred them to other churches and made the victims feel like they were to blame.
Bruce Goddard did not return a telephone call seeking comment Friday, and has never spoken publicly on the sex abuse allegations at his church.
In November 2018, Monteiro was sentenced to five years, four months in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting three teenage girls from his youth ministry, all under the age of 18 from 2000 to 2010. His victims also made their stories public on social media in 2018.
Monteiro, now 47, has been serving his sentence at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, and is scheduled to be released from custody at the end of the month, having earned myriad credits while incarcerated, including for good behavior, for time served prior to sentencing, and for participating in various work programs, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Durbin, who is Monteiro’s sister-in-law, said she used to babysit for Fox’s family. She considered Fox a father figure, and his family like a second family, before Fox began grooming her for sex in 1990, when she was 15. She said he frequently complimented her on her looks, bought her gifts, and peppered her with kisses on the cheek and mouth. She said Fox’s advances made her feel “uncomfortable and gross,” but she didn’t want to upset Fox or jeopardize their father-daughter relationship.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, it’s very clear that he had groomed me,” Durbin said in 2019.
Durbin said when she informed Bruce Goddard of what was happening, he did not contact police, but instead transferred Fox to another church out of state. She said Goddard’s wife called her a “homewrecker.”
Fox’s attorney, Paul Grech, said in a telephone interview Friday that Fox pleaded guilty because it was “the right thing to do,” and that he takes responsibility for his actions.
“He’s carried this sense of guilt for the last 30 years, and he wants to make this right,” said Grech, adding that Fox left the ministry prior to Durbin reporting what happened to law enforcement.
“His conscience would not allow him to continue in the ministry,” Grech said. “He’s a man of conscience who made an error, and this is the opportunity to correct it, or at least to set it right as best as he’s possibly able.”
The court took into consideration Fox’s age at the time the crimes occurred — he was in his early 30s — the fact he has committed no other crimes, and has otherwise led a “productive and blameless life” ever since, Grech said. Fox plans to publicly apologize to Durbin at his April 30 sentencing, his lawyer said.
A former Wildomar youth pastor who engaged in sex acts with a girl 30 years ago was bound for state prison Thursday to serve a two-year sentence.
Laverne Paul Fox, 62, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to lewd acts on a minor and sexual penetration of a child under 16 years old.
The plea was made directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, without input from the District Attorney’s Office, and in exchange for Fox’s admissions, the judge dismissed a related molestation charge.
In June 2019, the defendant was arrested in Erie, Pennsylvania, and extradited back to Riverside County following an extensive sheriff’s department investigation. He posted a $120,000 bond and was free while awaiting disposition of his case.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Warrington, detectives became aware of the defendant’s offenses while conducting a separate investigation into the sexual abuse of three teenage girls by another youth pastor, 47-year-old Malo Victor Monteiro of Colton.
Monteiro, who committed the crimes while employed by the First Baptist Church in Wildomar, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to seven sex-related felonies and was sentenced to five years, four months in state prison under a plea agreement authorized by Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen, also without input from prosecutors.
Court records show that Fox’s assaults on his victim occurred in 1991 and 1992. The locations and circumstances were not detailed, nor was there any indication that Monteiro and Fox were acquainted.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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