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Detectives believe hospital director molested at least five children

February 24, 2010 |  6:05 pm

The executive director of Napa State Hospital, a Northern California mental institution that treats child sexual offenders, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of molesting his adopted son for more than a decade.

Long Beach police detectives took Claude Edward Foulk, 62, into custody Wednesday morning at the hospital, following a lengthy investigation into alleged molestations in Southern Calfornia and Northern California. L.A. County prosecutors have charged Foulk with 35 felony counts, including 22 counts of forcible oral copulation and 11 counts of sodomy by use of force.

Authorities said they have evidence that Foulk molested at least five children – including some foster children in his care. But they said the statute of limitations in those cases has already expired, so no charges could be brought. Long Beach police Cmdr. Jeff Johnson said officials began building their case in September, when one of his former foster children contacted them with details about abuse he had allegedly suffered decades earlier. 

The man, now in his 40s, came forward after learning that Foulk was now heading a hospital that dealt with sex offenders, authorities said. Detectives believed that Foulk used his position working at mental facilities in Southern California to make connections with children. Johnson said the victims included children who lived in Foulk's neighborhood.

“He used his position of trust not only as a parental figure but as a healthcare professional to obtain his victims,” Johnson said. “He was able to not only use strategic threats of force or intimidation but use monetary as well as other rewards to his victims and their caretakers to prevent discovery of his crimes.”

Detectives said the alleged victims came in contact with Foulk as far back as 1975, when he lived in Long Beach and other locations around the region. Johnson said most of the alleged incidents occurred before 1988, which is the cutoff date under the statute of limitations under a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The charges filed this week involve his adopted son, now in his mid 20s, who alleges that Foulk molested him between 1992 and 2006.

The arrested shocked some officials at Napa State Hospital, where Foulk has been director since 2007. Hours after his arrest, state officials announced that they had terminated Foulk’s employment. State officials declined further comment. Neither Foulk nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Some employees at the hospital said they were concerned because Foulk lived in a house on the facility grounds, next to a daycare center. The charges don’t include any allegations of molestation at the Napa facility, but Long Beach police said they believe there might be more victims both in L.A. County and Northern California.

--Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton in Los Angeles, Lee Romney in San Francisco