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Man arrested on suspicion of 1970s molestations

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.

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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

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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

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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

belief.”

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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

state prison.

“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.


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