Rural Clay County resident Jeffery Dean Wilcox, 43, is being held at the Clay County Jail after interviews Tuesday led to his arrest in connection with the molestation of a 14-year-old female.
CCSD Sgt. Rob Gambill and Diana Thompson of the Clay County Office of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration interviewed a juvenile in reference to a child molestation complaint, and information from that interview indicated that Wilcox had been having sexual relations with the victim beginning one year ago when the teenager was 13.
Wilcox was arrested on a class A felony charge of child molestation following an interview with Gambill and CCSD Deputy Jon Lambert, the CCSD announced in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
"It began a year ago," Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times. "Apparently the victim had told a friend what had happened, and the friend passed that on."
Heaton said he could not elaborate on the relationship between Wilcox and the victim, also a Clay County resident, or explain how they know each other in order to protect the identity of the victim. He said that while he has heard of other allegations, those have not been verified and no other charges have been brought against Wilcox.
"It's believed to be an isolated incident," he said.
An official at the Clay County Office of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration declined to comment on the incident due to victim protection laws. Meanwhile, the Clay County Prosecutor's Office indicated no initial hearing has been set for Wilcox, although a date is expected to be determined by the end of the week.
National news reports have featured a number of incidents of kidnapping and child molestation, and Heaton said molestation investigations at the local level occur more often than the public may realize. "Each individual case has to be checked out," he said. "It happens quite often, more than the media knows and tells. Yes, it can happen here in Clay County."
While being suspicious of every person children interact with is not feasible, Sheriff Heaton urged parents to speak to their children about who they see and talk to each day, to learn how often those encounters take place and the nature of their conversations.
"Be active in their lives. Ask them who they're talking to. Pay attention. If something happens to a child, they act different," he said. "A lot of times you don't know who these people are in your community, who preys on children. The ones that haven't been caught and arrested - you don't know."
Wilcox is being held at the Clay County Jail on a bond of $50,000.
Josh Cannon contributed to this report.