BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Former House Minority Leader Galen Fox admits he committed a sex crime aboard a fateful flight on December 18, 2004, when he groped the woman beside him.
Fox says he has turned his life around. But that turning point came after he was arrested by the FBI, found guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor in a Los Angeles court, left the legislature, served his 90-day home detention sentence, went through extensive therapy and registered as a sex offender.
He shared his story in part one of this series, because he said his side had never been told – and that he has a happy ending to share.
The road to recovery began with 90 days of home detention. Fox had to submit a weekly schedule of the times he would be out of his home; he had to be reachable by phone; and be prepared for unscheduled home checks or home phone calls. “The routine I established to get through the 90 days has affected the pattern of my life since,” Fox said.
Because he was deemed a sex offender, Fox went through a series of counseling treatments, lie detector tests, and psychological tests to reveal his sexual proclivities and determine if he was a “safe citizen.”
For two years, he went to group counseling sessions once a week and then in the last year and a half of his sentence, he attended session once a month and then once every six weeks.
“Part of my routine included weekly (later monthly, even later, twice quarterly) sessions on assertive communication and relapse prevention, sessions withthree to four others on probation for sex crimes. I was impressed with how focused the criminal justice system is on relapse prevention, with good reason, because relapse is a major cause of future crime. “
“The most effective programs identify the specific behavior pattern that led to the crime, and provide the offender the tools to break that pattern,” said Fox, who as a registered sex offender who must report his address quarterly and be photographed once a year.
He says the philosophy behind sex criminal registration laws is that sex offenders are likely to relapse: “Two thirds of those who go to prison for any crime will return to prison; 10% to 30% of sex criminals who receive treatment will reoffend.”
“Figures in Hawaii for those completing treatment: 3% reoffend; 85% to 90% of those who will reoffend will do so within two years of their crime (for me, by 12/18/06); Of those who reoffend within 12 months of ending treatment, 89% will victimize boys (not girls, not women); Of those who are monitored and who undergo specific treatment, 2% reoffend (total national sample).”
In between treatment, Fox did have free time, during which he went to the gym and to church. “I have a church that supports me and takes me in and treats me as a human being and forgives me.”
He pondered the question of “should I continue with my life?” and if so, he wanted to “do useful things and help other people” as a part of his recovery.
Volunteering to help homeless families who came to live at the church and became co-chair of the program became his new mission. Homeless families come to the church once every three months.
“We take in 14 people or four to five families for the week. Many are employed but cannot make enough money to pay for a home. They are wonderful people, holding their families together under difficult circumstances,” Fox said.
At first, he was concerned that church volunteers would be worn out by the project, but he said “working with the cheerful families pass through our church and on to more permanent housing (over 80%) is rewarding enough to have the volunteers return again and again. We gain at least as much from the experience as do our houseless guests,” Fox said.
Besides volunteer work, Fox started writing a blog – http://capitalismdemocracypeace.blogspot.com – dedicated to national and international news coverage.
But the most important turning point in his life and his recovery was when he met his new love.
“I found somebody who I dated and accepted me with all this stuff in my background,” he said. “We started seeing each other in summer of 2006 just on a highly social basis, and became more serious year later. We moved in together in 2008, and got married in 2009.”
He began to go to “fun” events with the lady who later became his wife. “Her willingness to be with me in public and to accept me as I was so important for me. She is my ‘angel.’ I thank God every day for her, and try to let her know I much I appreciate her.”
The couple shares many of the same interests, he says, including travel. “Together, we have been on trips I’ve long wanted to take to Mexico’s eastern coast, the Norwegian fjords and Northern Europe, South America, Spain, and the Caribbean, as well as several trips within the U.S. that included visits to my children and grandchildren.”
The keys to his successful rehabilitation, he said, were his treatment programs required by the terms of his probation, the support of his church and accompanying belief in God, his research and writing for his blog. The support from his children and his my former wife, and a “few true friends,” and “gaining the love of a woman who accepted me as I was and supports my recovery,” were invaluable.
Fox’s probation ended two years ago and he said he “feels blessed.” He does not intend to return to politics.
See Part one of the series: Former House Leader Galen Fox on His Crime, His Time and Being a Sex Offender | Hawaii Reporter