WELLSBORO, Pa., Aug. 4 (UPI) — A former New York City police officer honored in 1982 as a father of the year has pleaded no contest in Pennsylvania to molesting three boys he adopted.
William Fox, 66, faces up to 69 years in prison when he is sentenced, the New York Daily News reported.
His lawyer, Stephen Banik, told the News that Fox only entered the plea after Wednesday’s hearing in Tioga County because his memory is failing and he was unable to testify in court.
Fox became a national hero in 1981 when he convinced a suicidal teenager not to jump from a ledge at a Bowery rooming house and then became the boy’s legal guardian, the Staten Island Advance reported. He was honored the next year by a national group as a father of the year and was the subject and co-author of a book, “The Cop and the Kid.”
Investigators say Fox, now living in Liberty, Pa., adopted more than 10 children. He was arrested last year and charged with molesting three boys he took into his home in Pennsylvania between 1996 and 2009.
Dr. Frank Spinelli, an internist, told the Advance he sparked the investigation by telling police Fox molested him when he was an 11-year-old Boy Scout in the police officer’s Staten Island troop.
“There’s part of me that feels vindicated; I thought no one believed me,” Spinelli said. “But part of me feels so sad so many other boys had to suffer needlessly.”
Fox is free on bail pending sentencing.