LONG BEACH, Calif. – A state mental hospital director on trial for child molestation flatly denied any wrongdoing Friday, following emotional testimony by his adopted son who characterized his father as a monster who abused him for more than a decade and destroyed his life.
The 27-year-old man, who wept on the stand, said Claude Foulk began abusing him at age 9, when he was Foulk's foster child, and continued for more than a decade until he fled at 21.
Foulk, who was fired as director of Napa State Hospital after his arrest last year, had adopted the man when he turned 13.
The Associated Press is not naming the witness because it has a policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.
Foulk, 63, has pleaded not guilty to 35 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. If convicted of all the counts, he could face a maximum of 280 years in prison.
Wearing a button-down shirt and silk vest, a gray-mustached and balding Foulk denied all allegations of molestation.
He said he adopted the witness because he believed older children needed parenting too, adding that he had previously served as a foster parent and had adopted one other son.
"There was no physical abuse. There was no sexual abuse. There was no intimidation," Foulk said.
Those claims were contradicted by testimony earlier in the day by Foulk's alleged victim.
"He's a monster," the witness said, adding that he quit college and left home to escape the abuse. "He has torn me apart."
Authorities contend 13 men, including another one of Foulk's four foster sons, came forward to claim Foulk molested them as children as far back as 1965. Only one of the cases, however, could be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations.
In cross-examination, defense attorney Richard Poland suggested Foulk's son had a history of lying from the time he entered the foster care system, from making up excuses as an adult to avoid taking calls from his adoptive father.
He also asked the witness why he waited so long to tell Foulk to stop the alleged abuse or report it to police.
"Is it fair to state that you never told him to stop because you wanted to continue getting the toys or the cars or going wherever you wanted?" Poland asked the witness, who answered with a resounding "no."
The investigation was sparked when someone reported sexual abuse to police last September after learning Foulk was head of Napa State Hospital, prosecutors have said.
Detectives from the sex crimes division found evidence that five boys under 14 had been molested in Long Beach, where Foulk had lived, and in Rancho Murieta in Northern California, authorities said. Additional victims were listed in an amended complaint filed last year.
Foulk was paid $98,000 a year at Napa State Hospital, where he was responsible for supervising the 1,260-bed institution that houses adults mostly judged mentally incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of insanity.
He previously worked as a high-level administrator at several private psychiatric hospitals and with the state Department of Mental Health.
Records show he was briefly married in the 1970s.
During the trial in Superior Court in Long Beach, the witness told jurors he found photos of naked boys on his father's computer.
He said he craved his father's love as a child, and was afraid he would be sent back to foster care if he spoke out.
"He said, 'If you don't love me, we won't be able to do this. This is how a man shows love,'" the witness said.
Foulk will continue to testify on Monday, and attorneys could wrap up the trial with closing arguments later that day.
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