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Guidance counselor charged in assault

Last modified: 4/10/2012 12:00:00 AM
A Hopkinton High School guidance counselor has been charged with attacking and badly injuring his 74-year-old uncle in a Manchester parking garage amid a contentious probate-court dispute.

Gene Fox, 63, was placed on paid administrative leave yesterday, said Hopkinton Superintendent Steven Chamberlin. He said Fox worked with students in 10th through 12th grades at the Hopkinton Middle/High School.

Fox, who lives on Hillside Drive in Henniker, was arrested Friday and arraigned yesterday morning on a single count of second-degree assault for attacking Neal Fox of Bethel, Vt.

The charge is a Class B felony carrying up to seven years in prison.

Gene Fox didn't enter a plea yesterday and is free on $5,000 bail, according to court records. He is due back in Manchester's district court May 2 for a probable-cause hearing.

Fox didn't return a message seeking comment. Court records indicate he didn't ask for a public defender.

Neal Fox, a retired Army colonel and chairman of the board of selectmen in Bethel, said he was in Manchester on Friday for a probate court arbitration session. A dispute, he said, has been ongoing over guardianship for his brother (Gene Fox's father) who is suffering from dementia.

The quarrel has been contentious, Neal Fox said, and at the close of Friday's session, his nephew appeared enraged.

And as he loaded his car in the Victory Parking Garage on Vine Street that afternoon, Neal Fox said he noticed Gene Fox there, scrutinizing his front license plate.

"He said, 'I just want to memorize your number plate, in case I need it later,' " Neal Fox said.

Then, Neal Fox said, as he moved toward the driver's side door, Gene Fox said, " 'How would you like to be beat up by your nephew who's 12 years younger than you?' or something like that. And I said, 'I don't want to be beat up by anybody.' "

Gene Fox then punched him in the face, Neal Fox said.

"I know I was unconscious because when I finally was able to make sense, I had seen him step on my glasses, which had fallen off, and then he stepped on me, my torso, my lower stomach . . . and then again on my chest, my chest nearest my neck, and then he was gone," Neal Fox said.

Fox said he lay on the concrete bleeding for a time and shouted for help, then got up and made his way to the garage entrance, where several women helped him and called for an ambulance and the police.

He was taken to Catholic Medical Center for treatment and was released Sunday.

In a criminal complaint prepared by the Manchester police, Gene Fox's alleged actions - including punching, kicking and stepping on his uncle - were described as being "under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life."

According to Manchester police spokeswoman Lt. Maureen Tessier, Gene Fox had left the garage by the time police officers responded to the garage about 4 p.m. The Henniker police later took Fox into custody at his home without incident, she said.

The Manchester police released Fox early Saturday morning after he obtained a $5,000 surety bond to cover his bail, according to court records. Among other conditions, Fox has been ordered to have no contact with his uncle and to remain at least 300 feet away from him at all times.

Neal Fox said he doesn't know why his nephew attacked him.

"I have no idea," Fox said. "I think he was just in a complete state of rage, and I don't understand it myself."

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @BenLeubsdorf.)


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