A Mesa resident accused of abusing his wife, molesting his stepdaughter, and sexually assaulting another teen girl will be sentenced to jail next month and will be ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Richard Box, 70, pleaded no contest on February 10 to felony sex crimes and domestic violence charges. His sentencing is scheduled for March 24.
Though Box originally faced nearly 20 years in prison when he was arrested in December 2013, his plea deal means he will now spend 365 days in Santa Barbara County Jail and serve five years of felony probation. If he violates the terms of his probation — stay away from the minor victims, attend a treatment program, and not initiate or maintain contact with females under the age of 18 — Box will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Disturbing reports of Box’s alleged crimes surfaced shortly after his arrest and were detailed in subsequent court hearings. Prosecutors claimed Box’s wife and stepdaughter — both from Thailand, where he owns property — were subjected to prolonged abuse and lived in constant fear.
They said the former realtor and men’s choir singer tried to rape his wife and forced his stepdaughter, who he was reportedly grooming as a sex slave, to live in a small closet under a stairwell. Neighbors and media tipsters complained of Box’s unsavory reputation around town, and his ex-wife and son openly discussed how “manipulative” and “terribly nasty” he was.
Box was defended by his friends and attorney Steve Balash, who called the victims “crazy” and complained they lied to police. A handful of supporters attended his court hearings over the last year and reportedly helped him post his $2 million bail. One of Box’s friends said he was with Box when he met his wife in Thailand but that he advised against the wedding because he believed the woman was “unstable.”
After Box was released from custody the day after Christmas, he was charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl in 2012 at a Long Beach apartment complex he owned at the time. The pending case against him was updated with the new allegations. Then, in March 2014, he was re-arrested for violating a restraining order against the Santa Barbara victims. He was held on a $1 million bond but was again released when he posted bail with help from his friends.
Considering how much prison time he was facing, the outcome of Box’s case was a “good result,” said Balash. The defense attorney said there were “changes in position” by witnesses, but he declined to elaborate. Box’s stepdaughter is now living in a shelter, Balash said, and Box has moved back into his Las Ondas home with his wife.