A Court Case for Former Faith Baptist Academy Principal Delayed; SNAP Responds

A former Baptist principal who in January pleaded guilty to sexually abusing at least one student had his case delayed this week because the judge was uncomfortable with the agreed to plea bargain. We hope that this delay as a result of the deal being too friendly to the alleged abuser sends the message that cases of child sexual abuse will be taken very seriously in California.

Laverne Paul Fox was arrested in Erie, PA, in June of 2019 and charged with multiple offenses related to child sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in July 1990. Fox, a former principal at Faith Baptist Academy in Wildomar, initially pleaded not guilty to felony charges in January 2020, then one year later he reached a plea deal with prosecutors and admitted to two felony counts involving a minor.

Apparently, that deal hit a snag this week. After listening to an impact statement from Fox's female victim, Judge Mark Mandio called the attorneys present into his chambers. When court resumed, Fox's attorney asked to withdraw his client's guilty plea. Apparently, Judge Mandio was NOT comfortable with the plea agreement because he felt the sentence was too short considering the crimes and the consequences for the survivor. A moving victim impact statement read by the brave survivor, in-person herself, changed the course for the judge who was to sentence Fox.

Faith Baptist Academy is affiliated with the Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, CA, and is no stranger to having staff sexually assault minors. In November 2018, Malo 'Victor' Monteiro, a Youth Pastor for Faith Baptist Academy, was sentenced on seven sex-related felonies and ordered to serve five years and four months in state prisonWe are outraged to learn that Monteiro was released from state prison due to Covid-19. He was expected to be imprisoned until 2023.

Four brave women came forward with their own story following the arrest of Monteiro in July of 2018. They hoped others who had the same horrifying experiences of sexual assault to come forward. Not long after Monteiro was arrested, the detectives uncovered the information about Fox.

We believe that there may be many more victims out who have suffered at the hands of abusers like Monteiro or Fox in private school settings like Faith Baptist Academy. The ignorance of the former pastor of Faith Baptist Church and his wife, the years of abuse endured by victims, tells us that silence still may have a grip on this faith community. We hope that this story will encourage others victims who may still be suffering in silence to come forward and get the help they need to heal.

CONTACT:  Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator (925-708-6175, [email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, mmcdonnell@snapnetwork.org), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

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