A Fresno man accused of sexually abusing a 12-year girl pleaded not guilty Monday in his first court appearance in Fresno County Superior Court.
Brent Cox faces nine counts of sexual abuse allegedly against the daughter of his girlfriend. Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Cox, 41, last week. They also arrested his wife Jillian Cox and a live-in girlfriend, 38, all on sexual abuse charges.
Judge Adolfo Corona ordered the news media not to report the name of the girlfriend to protect the identity of the alleged victim.
Cox Faces Nine Counts
The district attorney’s office accused Cox of abusing the girl between May 28, 2020 and Jan. 25, 2021.
The complaint lists nine counts, including four counts of oral copulation of a person under 14; and one count each of sexual penetration of a victim under 14; continuous sexual abuse; contact or communication with a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense; meeting with a minor to commit sexual offense; and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.
After his arrest, Cox was being held without bail. Cox’s attorney, Marc Kapetan, asked for a bail reduction, arguing that some of the charges were duplicative.
Corona set bail at $495,000.
The prosecutor’s complaint also showed that Cox had a 2000 conviction for arson.
Corona also issued a criminal protective order, in essence a restraining order. Cox is prevented from contacting the alleged victim by any manner, including through a third party.
“It’s a stay-away order from the alleged victim. You are to stay a hundred yards away from this person, wherever they are. Let’s not have personal, electronic, telephonic, or written contact with this person. Let’s not have contact with this person through another person,” the judge said.
Corona also barred Cox from access to guns or ammunition.
Kapetan argued against GV Wire℠ and other news media requests to record the arraignment. He said such coverage is sensational because of some of the details that already have been reported, including Cox having a wife and girlfriend, and “Gothic-type interests.”
Corona denied that request, but did order media to report neither the name of the alleged victim because of her age nor the name of her mother.
Arraignment In Two Courtrooms
Cox was initially scheduled to be arraigned in the courtroom of Judge James Kelley. Once Kapetan appeared on behalf of Cox, Kelley recused himself without stating why.
The case could have been transferred to the adjacent courtroom. That meant Judge Jon Kapetan also would have had to recuse himself because he is the brother of Cox’s attorney.
Eventually, the matter was transferred to Corona’s Department 20 courtroom.
While Cox appeared in person, the judge and both attorneys — Marc Kapetan and prosecutor Richard Burchett — appeared via Zoom teleconferencing.
The case returns March 10 for a pre-preliminary hearing and March 17 for the preliminary hearing.
Two Other Suspects Await Court Date
The district attorney filed formal charges against Jillian Cox and the girlfriend on Monday afternoon.
Cox, 36, faces two counts — lewd acts upon a child and child abuse. She is scheduled to be arraigned on April 16.
The girlfriend faces those two counts plus an additional charge of dissuading a witness from testifying.
Because she is still in custody, her first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday morning in front of Kelley. Her bail is listed as $80,000, according to the county jail website.
According to jail records, Cox bailed out of jail Friday at 4:19 p.m.
Girlfriend Wanted Full Custody of Daughter
According to court records, the girlfriend/mother of the alleged victim married the child’s father in 2001 and filed for divorce in 2016. It was finalized a year later.
The couple agreed to 50/50 joint custody.
However, in November the woman filed an emergency petition for sole custody of their daughter.
“The reason for the emergency order is fear of physical harm in retaliation for her attempted refusal to see them, especially because of excessive alcohol use. She is terrified of returning, and threatens suicide when she is forced to go,” the woman wrote in her petition.
The motion was denied for “failure to provide a declaration establishing good cause for waiver of the notice requirement,” and establishing good cause “is not sufficient.”
In 2017, the husband filed a restraining order, asking to change the custody arrangement. He accused the woman, among other things, of being “under the influence of drugs and shows signs of anger/violence.”
The woman denied those allegations. Eventually, the parties agreed to mediation, and the matter was dropped.