Former Laguna Beach resident Graham Wilcox, 79, was arrested on
suspicion of committing lewd acts with a minor and penetration with a
foreign object, in connection with crimes reported to have occurred
between 1971 and 1973.
One of the victims reported an incident after a neighborhood
reunion in Laguna earlier this month, said Sgt. Jason Kravetz of the
Laguna Beach Police Department.
“After she talked with her former neighbors, many of the women
realized they had one thing in common,” he said.
They all had had a strange relationship with the man who had lived
down the street with his wife and son.
The four victims -- who had been between the ages of 5 and 8 at
the time -- alleged that Wilcox lured them into his garage, where he
exposed himself and had them touch him. He also touched the girls
using his fingers, Kravetz said.
Although nearly 20 years have passed, it is not unusual for
survivors to report crimes well into adulthood.
“There are a lot of dynamics in play that prevent victims from
reporting crimes immediately,” said Ryan Gilmore, a sexual assault
prevention educator with California Service Program’s Sexual Assault
Victim Services unit. “Sometimes children don’t understand what is
happening to them. They may also have been threatened by the molester
or they may feel at fault and the molester may perpetuate that
In many cases, victims may repress their memories or simply chose
not to confront those issues until their adult years.
“Like rapists of adult females, child molesters are driven by the
desire to control another person,” Gilmore said. That cycle of
control continues until an adult survivor experiences some kind of
personal breakthrough and comes forward to law enforcement.
Three years ago, California recognized these unique dynamics and
passed a bill that amended the California Code of Civil Procedure.
Current law now dictates that the statute of limitations for child
sexual abuse cases begins when the crime is reported.
After investigators interviewed the four victims, they spoke with
Wilcox in his Mission Viejo home. He was arrested and then
transported to Orange County Jail where he posted bail on Sept. 12.
If Wilcox is convicted he is eligible for a maximum eight years in
“It appears to be a very strong case,” Kravetz said.
Survivors of sexual assault crimes can receive assistance by
calling one of California State Program’s 24-hour crisis hotlines at
(949) 831-9110 or (714) 957-2737.