These three stories from the summer after the earthquake are as rare as they are disturbing. I don’t recall any other newspaper reports about child molestation during this era; either this crime was unusual, or it usually wasn’t spoken of.
It’s certainly possible (I suppose) that the trauma of the quake might have pushed some with borderline sexual disorders over the edge; it was well studied at the time that the disaster had a positive effect on those inclined to harm themselves, with the suicide rate dropping sharply in San Francisco during this post-quake period. It would be an interesting project for a psych student to see if there was also an effect on anti-social crimes, for better or no.
Yet the final story in this entry suggests that the papers were willing to downplay such crimes when the molester came from a family of “respectable people.” Apparently Mr. Faxon had already done six months in the pokey for exposing himself and grabbing children; as reported in the Republican after his new six month conviction, “Faxon’s conduct has been going on for some time past. Many nights he has occupied a position on the E street bridge and accosted young girls.”
Also notable is the story of the man using his automobile to lure children within grabbing distance. This was 1906, remember, and horseless carriages were still very expensive and rare to see; surely it would have been possible to find the perp if authorities in other towns had been given a description.
OLD MAN GIVEN A WARNING
Complaints had reached police headquarters of the alleged misconduct of an old man named J. F. Winkinson in the presence of small girls on Second street, and on Monday night he was arrested by Police Officer Hankel, and was put under a severe cross-examination by the officer and Chief of Police Rushmore. At first he denied any impropriety, but afterwards admitted it. He was given a reprimand and agreed that he would leave town Tuesday morning under pain of being arrested. The parents of the children were desirous that he should make his presence scarce and avoid their children being brought into the notoriety in a court investigation.– Santa Rosa Republican, June 26, 1906
ATTEMPTED TO FONDLE A GIRL
Stranger Invites Two Young Girls to Go Auto Riding With Him and Behaves in Improper Manner
Last night something of a sensation was caused here, but was kept very quiet owing to an expressed desire on the part of the families concerned to avoid notoriety.
A well dressed stranger, driving an automobile, while passing a house in the southern part of the city, stopped his machine and invited two young girls to go for a ride. Believing everything was all right and anxious to have an auto ride they accepted the invitation and clambered into the machine. Their newly found friend soon pulled into a quiet thoroughfare and stopped the machine. It is said that he then attempted to fondle the oldest girl. Both girls screamed, and he started up the auto and hurried on. A few seconds later he stopped and told the girls to get out, and he then drove on at a lively gait. Word was sent to Police Officer I. N. Lindley and a careful watch was kept for the reappearance of the stranger in the automobile, but he came not. He is said to have been seen speeding towards Petaluma. He told one of the girls that his name was “Doctor, and nothing else.” The girls were eight and twelve years old.– Press Democrat, August 8, 1906
Faxon Gets the Limit of the Law
E. F. Faxon, who entered a plea of guilty Wednesday to indecent exposure and making improper proposals to young girls, was made to feel that there is a law which even he in his depravity must respect when he appeared before Justice A. J. Atchinson Thursday morning. The man with the brutal instincts was given a severe lecture by the justice on the beastly manner in which he had conducted himself in the past and was then handed a sentence of six months in the county jail. The justice gave him no alternative of paying a fine for his offense, and the man will have to spend the time in the county jail meditating on his past conduct.
Faxon’s conduct has been going on for some time past. Many nights he has occupied a position on the E street bridge and accosted young girls. His shocking conduct brought down on him the threats of vengance from many fathers and mothers, and a sigh of relief was heaved in the neighborhood when Officer Lindley appeared on the scene and captured the man. His declarations of innocence were apparently so well founded that for a time he threw the officers and justice off the track, and they took only nominal measures to prevent his leaving town and escaping the punishment he so richly deserves.
Faxon was very anxious that nothing should be known of his nefarious practices, and especially that it should not get to a citizen who had employed him the day before he was caught by the officers. When he was arrested the second time and his bail increased to one hundred dollars, he realized the evidence against him was strong, and he confessed the crime. The main’s parents reside in this city and are respectable people. They are crushed beneath the predicament of their son.– Santa Rosa Republican, August 16, 1906
HUGGER GIVEN 6 MONTHS IN JAIL
E. F. Faxon Sentenced by Justice Atchinson and is Given the Maximum Punishment
Justice A. J. Atchinson meted out punishment to E. F. Faxon on Thursday morning to the tune of six months in the county jail. This was the limit he could give him for the offense charged, and judging from the expressions heard from some fathers in town the defendant got off more luckily than they would have let him.
Faxon is the young man who pleaded guilty of unseemingly and disgraceful conduct on the E street bridge, and also with grabbing and following young girls and making improper suggestions to them. When Police Officer Lindley arrested Faxon he denied that he was the man sought after for having been offensive to girls, but later admitted his guilt.– Press Democrat, August 17, 1906