Wilbur Dean Terry

The young girl on Fourth Street was not Terry’s first accuser, however.

In 2002 two 9-year-old girls claimed he had fondled them at a Cub Scout function in Boca Raton. Two years later, a 5-year-old girl in suburban Boca Raton claimed he molested her in her bedroom.

In both cases, state prosecutors decided not to press charges.

First there were the molestation allegations on Southwest Fourth Street. Then came the ugly arrest.

But the least popular man on the block these days isn’t the one accused of molesting a child. It’s the father of the accuser.

On this Boca Raton street, long-time neighbors say they’ve known Wilbur Dean Terry, charged with molesting a 4-year-old girl, as kind and helpful, someone they know and trust.

The girl’s father, on the other hand, is not so well-liked. And he permitted a protest in front of his home this week that drew two dozen out-of-towners, three television stations, two newspapers — and the ire of his neighbors.

“Believe it or not, 90 percent of the people here are against me,” said the father. “I don’t want to live here because of it. It’s sad.”

The protest, organized by a Broward County advocacy group that canvassed the street with fliers beforehand, only set the fault lines on Southwest Fourth Street deeper. Not a single neighbor attended.

And some on this quiet street of basketball hoops and barrel tile roofs have offered to serve as character witnesses for Terry if his case goes to trial.

While Terry has been investigated at least twice previously on molestation charges, neighbors are quick to say that he hasn’t been convicted of anything, and that he’s been a good neighbor for more than a decade. He was not arrested or charged in the previous two cases.

“To me it’s b.s.,” said John Nero, a neighbor. “I’ve known him 12 years. I don’t believe everything that’s being said.”

It’s a reminder that loyalties on suburban streets don’t always follow a Hollywood script – and that the messy polarizing effects of an arrest can play out in unpredictable ways.

Some of the underlying reasons are the stuff of regular neighborhood politics. The accuser’s father was disliked by many of his neighbors well before he called Boca Raton police in July, saying his 4-year-old daughter had claimed Terry showed her pornographic pictures and later fondled her.

On the other hand Terry, a 43-year-old screening contractor, was a popular figure. He had lived on the street longer than the accuser’s father and was quick to give his neighbors a hand with yard work and fix-it jobs.

“He’d help you in a minute,” said Donnie Lowell, a former studio pianist who has lived next door to Terry for more than a decade. “I can’t say anything bad about him at all.”

Terry and his wife were also friends of the accuser’s father and family. The father said his young girl would often go to Terry’s house to play with Terry’s son.

That ended with Terry’s arrest and the revelation that he had pornography on his home computer as the girl had claimed.

But the fact that Terry was well liked, while the father of his accuser was not, has affected neighbors’ view of the situation.

Investigators say acquaintances are often skeptical of allegations against accused child molesters – particularly in cases where the accuser is a young child.

“Often it goes back to what the neighbors think of the people themselves,” said Sgt. Mark Jolly of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office’s special investigations division. “They’re going to say, ‘Hey, I know them better than you know them.’ “

The young girl on Fourth Street was not Terry’s first accuser, however.

In 2002 two 9-year-old girls claimed he had fondled them at a Cub Scout function in Boca Raton. Two years later, a 5-year-old girl in suburban Boca Raton claimed he molested her in her bedroom.

In both cases, state prosecutors decided not to press charges.

Most neighbors were not aware of the details of the current investigation or the previous allegations against him. But they said they resented the father’s decision to invite television cameras to their street Monday.

Neighbor James Lynch, a retired school master, called Monday’s protesters a “vigilante group.” He said that whatever the facts, Terry will have his day in court and that until then he should have the benefit of the doubt.

“What we want is justice,” he said. “We want him treated fairly.”

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

A Boca Raton man accused of showing pornography to a girl faces more charges.

Wilbur Dean Terry was charged with 57 additional counts Friday after police found child pornography images on his computer.

Terry was arrested in August on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct after a man accused him of showing his daughter pornographic materials.

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