Update: Aug. 3, 2022: Brent Cox admitted his guilt in a plea deal that will imprison him for at least 18 years for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl. His wife and their girlfriend previously admitted their guilt in plea deals in the bizarre case. Read more at this link.
All was quiet in a central Fresno neighborhood on Friday morning.
The previous day, law enforcement officers served search warrants for the home in the middle of the 1400 block of Princeton Avenue.
Now, a lone security guard from Vanguard Security Response Team stood in front of the home. It was unclear who hired him.
Neighbors of Brent Cox, his wife, and their live-in girlfriend, were shocked after learning the three were arrested on allegations of child sexual abuse.
“When I found out what the charges were, it was disgusting. You know, they’re in your neighborhood doing this. It’s creepy,” said Stephen Webb, who lives across the street.
Cox, 41, was arrested on Wednesday. His wife Jillian Cox, 36, and the 38-year-old girlfriend were arrested on Thursday.
The alleged victim is the 12-year-old daughter of the girlfriend. She is the child of a previous relationship. Court records show the girl’s mother filed for divorce from the girl’s father in 2016. (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story named the girlfriend. The name was removed from this story after a Fresno County Superior Court told news media covering Cox’s arraignment on Monday not to name the mother to protect the victim.)
Still in Jail, Charges Filed Against Cox
All three were listed as in custody at the Fresno County Jail as of Friday afternoon.
The District Attorney’s office filed nine counts against Brent Cox. He faces eight counts of sexual abuse from May 28, 2020 through Jan. 25, 2021 and one count of dissuading a witness.
He is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment on Monday in Dept. 32 at 8:30 a.m.
Formal charges are expected to be filed against the two women early next week, according to a spokesman in the Fresno County District Attorney’s office.
All three were booked on various sex crime charges. The sheriff’s office said the girl’s mother also faces a misdemeanor charge of intimidating or dissuading a victim.
Brent Cox is the son of Terry Cox, a former Central Unified school board trustee. Cox did not respond to a request for comment.
Terry Cox is not involved in the case in any way, the sheriff’s department said.
Although the home is in the city of Fresno, the sheriff’s office is the lead investigator because the agency took the initial report.
The girl is currently safe, sheriff’s department spokesman Tony Botti said. She was removed from the home before arrests were made.
According to the charging document, Brent Cox was convicted of arson in 2000. It is unclear what punishment he faced.
He is being held without bail in the current case.
A check of other Fresno County Superior Court records for the suspects shows other, vehicle-related, charges as well.
In 2003, Brent Cox received 30 days in jail for driving on a suspended or revoked license and a three-year conditional sentence.
He also was arrested for for driving on a suspended or revoked license in 2012 but did not appear to serve any jail time.
Fresno court records do not indicate any prior criminal charges for the girl’s mother or Jillian Cox.
“Other than that, they came and went like normal people. He went to work and they did things there at the house. And, you know, they had people over and, you know, just nothing out of the ordinary.” — neighbor Stephen Webb
Webb said it news of the arrests were a complete shock. He said he’s visited the Cox home once on a social visit. He described them as neighborly and friendly. There was nothing suspicious about their behavior.
“The only thing I ever saw was his girlfriend walking to the store with her daughter and then coming back,” Webb said. “Other than that, they came and went like normal people. He went to work and they did things there at the house. And, you know, they had people over and, you know, just nothing out of the ordinary.”
Lizzy Lopez lives in the neighborhood but did not know the Cox family. She did know the house.
“It’s always been a creepy house. It always has the hearse thing going on. You can see there is something not right about the house just looking at it,” Lopez said.
The home was known for its Halloween motif. One hearse remained on the driveway. Neighbors say law enforcement took away another.
Both Webb and Lopez said it was the talk of the neighborhood.
“If these accusations are true, you got to take these people off the street,” Lopez said.