COURTESY OF KITV
Former state Rep. Galen Fox ran into a Los Angeles courthouse yesterday. He was sentenced to three years' probation and three months of home detention for molesting a sleeping female passenger on an airplane.
Fox gets probation for groping
The former legislator, who now admits the charge, must register as a sex offender
A California judge sentenced former lawmaker Galen Fox to three years' probation with three months of home detention for molesting a sleeping female passenger on a red-eye flight to Los Angeles two years ago.
U.S. District Judge Margaret Nagle also ordered Fox yesterday to register as sex offender in Hawaii, participate in sex offender evaluation and treatment, and notify his probation officer before flying.
Nagle called the matter "a very sad case, a tragedy for both the victim and Mr. Fox, and that the sentence was meant to convey the fact that it was a serious crime," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rupa Goswami.
Goswami noted that Fox refused to admit any wrongdoing or take responsibility until yesterday.
"He did express contrition and apologized, which certainly is gratifying," Goswami said.
Fox, 62, and his Los Angeles-based attorney did not return calls for comment.
Nagle convicted Fox following a nonjury trial on Oct. 20 on a misdemeanor charge of abusive sexual contact.
At trial, Fox admitted to touching the woman on her thigh and rubbing her crotch, and said he did it intentionally. But he maintained the woman was interested in his physical contact, based on her lack of response when he pressed his arm and leg against her.
When he announced his resignation in October, Fox denied any wrongdoing, admitting only to touching the woman on the arm.
Rep. Lynn Finnegan, who replaced Fox as House minority leader in June, said she trusted that the judge issued a fair sentence based on the evidence presented at trial.
"The sentencing reflects, I guess, the severity of what the judge felt," she said. "I am trusting the judge's sentencing at this point in time because I don't know what happened in the trial."
Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village) said she had only read media reports about the court transcripts and she was surprised to read about Fox's statements that contradicted what he told fellow Republicans and the public when he announced his resignation in November.
"I'm extremely upset at the fact that that was not the story that was told to us," she said.
Sam Aiona, chairman of the Republican Party of Hawaii, declined to discuss what Fox had told them about the incident, saying it was a personal matter. "This whole situation is unfortunate, and now that he has been sentenced, I think we can move on and put this issue behind us."
The woman, who is in her 20s and is from Hawaii, initially planned on attending Fox's sentencing but decided against it because of the media attention.
"This has been costly to her, in part because of who he is," Goswami said. "It's not easy to stand up when a person you are accusing is so well known." The woman did submit a statement to the court in which she wrote, "I brought this case forward because I had the right to sleep on a plane without being groped," Goswami said, quoting from the letter.
The woman, who is in graduate school, has taken a hiatus from her studies and suffers from difficulty sleeping, nightmares and trepidation, prosecutors said. Although restitution is mandatory in these cases, she has not sought any.
Those who have worked with Fox or knew him personally continue to support him and urge others to do the same.
"Though Galen made a mistake, to his credit he has accepted responsibility," said Tom Brower, a longtime Waikiki resident and member of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board for eight years who lives across the street from Fox.
"I encourage my neighbors to remember Galen for his good contributions. He has admitted his mistake and is working to better himself."
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this report.