LIVINGSTON COUNTY – It was all about the victim’s family in the county courthouse Friday afternoon, when Alan Fox was finally sentenced after pleading guilty to Attempted Sex Abuse in the First Degree, an E felony, in November 2014, for sexually molesting his five-year-old foster daughter in the summer of 2013.
The court waited at the ready for a full 20 minutes for the biological parents, and their friends and family, to arrive and watch proceedings in a special-term court hearing at 2 p.m. As Fox, 60, stood with his hands firmly shackled before Judge Dennis Cohen, his wife Cathy leaned forward attentively with her arms crossed, watching through thick-framed black glasses. After a long pause, Fox decided to say a few words before sentencing.
“I’m very sorry that I added injury to injury,” choked Fox. “I don’t deserve forgiveness, and I accept what is being handed to me as punishment.”
Assistant District Attorney Victor Rowcliffe made a statement before the court moved to sentencing, saying that the plea offer was designed to protect the victim first, preventing the five-year-old from re-traumatization by making her testify at trial.
“Child sex abuse cases are very difficult for prosecutors,” said ADA Rowcliffe. “On one hand, we want the punishments to be harsh, but on the other hand the health and welfare of the victim are just as important. Sometimes, these things are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Given the age of the victim, it would have been a problem should the matter have gone to trial and that’s why we offered a plea.”
Fox’s lawyer, John Putney, had sentencing delayed by 24 hours on Thursday when he said he did not receive a copy of the Pre-Sentence Investigation and Report (PSI) three days ahead of time, as is his right. Putney also requested that Fox’s hands be unshackled which Judge Cohen flatly refused.
Putney commented on several details in the PSI, clarifying for the record that Fox has not been formally trained as a pastor but is a “pulpit fill,” a lay person who delivers sermons in the absence of a trained pastor.
Putney added that and made sure that the record reflected that Fox voluntarily turned himself in to the Livingston County Jail on Jan. 5, which was originally set as a trial date.
Livingston County Judge Dennis Cohen gave the final word on the case, elaborating on the legal process of the case, and said that he actually turned down other offers from the District Attorney’s Office, saying that he demanded state prison for Fox from the beginning.
“The court is aware that this case has had a very deep impact on the victim, the family, and the entire community,” said a grave Judge Cohen. “The District Attorney’s Office initially made offers which I refused. I demanded that the offer must include state prison.”
The biological father of the victim expressed that he is dissatisfied with the sentence, but glad that Fox is finally in chains.
“I definitely think that the time should have been more,” said James. “Now that I know that he was offered a lesser charge, I’m not happy at all.”
James is now seeking custody of five of his children, including the victim, now 6.
PHOTO CAPTION: (Photo/Josh Williams)