Former police chief to face four sexual assault charges

MONTGOMERY — A former police chief has been arrested for allegedly trying to rape a woman in her home after he took her there in his police cruiser while on duty one night in early July, according to state police.

Laurence Wilcox, who has a lengthy career in Lycoming County law enforcement, was taken into custody Wednesday morning at an undisclosed location by members of the state police fugitive unit and the U.S. Marshals Office. He was charged with attempted rape, aggravated indecent assault, attempted sexual assault and indecent assault.

Wilcox, 69, a one-time borough police chief who most recently held the rank of patrolman, resigned from the department in early August, John DeWald, borough solicitor, told the Sun-Gazette on Wednesday.

DeWald said the police department have been cooperating with state police and the District Attorney’s Office.

The woman, who is in her 30s, said that Wilcox, while on duty and in uniform, picked her up in a cruiser “several times,” drove her to a local club and when she was done there, he would return, pick her up again and drive her home, Trooper Daniel Switzer said in an affidavit.

The night of July 5 was no different, the victim told police.

Wilcox picked her up, took her to the club and then returned and took her home on the morning of July 6, Switzer said.

Upon returning home, the woman “went inside and got ready for bed,” Switzer said, adding that the victim alleges that Wilcox, who went into the house with her, tried to rape her in her bedroom.

“She related that she didn’t want what he was doing to her so she told him no. She related that he got angry and told her that he was tired of her games,” Switzer said.

The woman told the investigator that Wilcox “got dressed, put on his gun belt and left. She related that she just stayed in bed for a while bawling because she didn’t want to give into what he wanted,” Switzer said.

Four days after the alleged assault, the victim came to the state police barracks in Montoursville to report her allegations.

Two days later, on July 12, Wilcox came to the barracks and was questioned by investigators. He told them he knew the victim and that she often went to a local club, Switzer said.

Wilcox said the woman would “call him and that he would give her a ride home,” Switzer said, adding that the borough officer said he was working a 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift overnight July 5.

The officer said that during his shift, he picked up the woman as she was walking home from the club. “He related that she had been drinking alcohol so he used her key to get her in the house. He said he had taken her home several times (before),” Switzer said.

“At first, (Wilcox) said that nothing happened between them. He related that he didn’t touch her and that she didn’t touch him except for a hug,” Switzer said, adding that the borough officer said he would call the woman and “offer to take her to the bar as well as to take her home.”

Wilcox said the two “never had any sexual contact with one another,” but he later admitted to having inappropriate physical contact with the woman, Switzer said.

During his arraignment on the felony and misdemeanor charges before District Judge Jerry C. Lepley, Wilcox, who has worked for several municipal police departments throughout the region, said “I’m not guilty.”

He told the judge he was currently was employed as an officer by both the DuBoistown and Muncy Police Departments. He was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Muncy Borough Police Chief James Dorman said Wednesday that while Wilcox was still an officer with the department, “he has had no police responsibilities” in Muncy since state police began their investigation last summer. Wilcox has been employed as a part-time officer by Muncy for 20 years.

Dorman said Wilcox himself and state police both informed him Wilcox was the focus of an investigation. Wilcox was “taken off the department’s work schedule” from that point on, the chief said.

DuBoistown Police Chief Norm Hager said Wilcox was hired as a part-time officer by the borough in January 2018 and works an average of two days a month, filling “shift vacancies” as needed.

Hager, like Dorman, said state police and Wilcox himself told him he was under investigation.

“All we were told was that he was being investigated. No other details were given to us,” Hager said.

Wilcox voluntarily “turned in his badge, his gun and credentials. He placed himself on administrative leave and has not worked a single shift since,” Hager said.

Staff Writer Mark Maroney contributed to this story.