A fugitive arrested in Surrey two-and-a-half years ago after being convicted in Arizona of molesting a disabled teen has lost a bid to be re-tried and sentenced in Canada instead of the U.S.
George Wilcox was found guilty by a jury in Arizona in absentia (he did not appear for the trial and was sought by police) in 2009 of two counts of sexual interference with a minor under 15. Later that year, Delta Police became aware Wilcox, who is a Canadian citizen, was possibly in Delta and investigated several leads until finally arresting him in Surrey in late July 2012. In the meantime, Wilcox, a former Calgary resident, had also been featured on the TV show America’s Most Wanted.
Wilcox, 57, was found guilty of acts involving a quadriplegic, blind and mute boy.
He was initially charged with four child sex offences in the U.S. after being caught on video, but the jury could not reach a verdict on two other charges. The U.S. Department of Justice has reserved its right to re-try Wilcox on the two charges.
In appealing his convictions and extradition order, Wilcox argued he touched the victim for a therapeutic, not sexual purpose, and said he should not be surrendered to Arizona due to the state’s harsh sentencing regime. Even if he were to be surrendered to the U.S., he argued, he should receive a new trial.
In a written ruling Wednesday (Feb. 4) three B.C. Court of Appeal judges dismissed Wilcox’s appeals.
“In my respectful opinion, there was ample evidence to support the inference that Mr. Wilcox acted with a ‘sexual purpose’,” wrote Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who also upheld the extradition order, with the support of two other justices.
The B.C. appeal court acknowledged the sentences Wilcox might have received in Canada are “a far cry” from what he faces in the U.S.
“He faces anywhere from 26 years upwards to 108 years imprisonment. The sentence for these offences in Canada is a minimum of 45-days imprisonment and a maximum of ten years per count,” wrote Bennett. “Theoretically, Mr. Wilcox could face a forty-year sentence in Canada [if retried and convicted on all four counts], but it is accepted that the sentence imposed in this country would likely be in the lower penitentiary range.”
But while Wilcox argued the potentially lengthy U.S. sentence would “shock the conscience of the community,” the appeal court disagreed, pointing to the age, circumstances and helplessness of his victim.