FILE - In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 Claude Edward Foulk Jr., former executive director, gestures during an interview in his office at the
FILE - In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 Claude Edward Foulk Jr., former executive director, gestures during an interview in his office at the Napa State Hospital in Napa, Calif. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

LONG BEACH - The former head of the state's largest mental health facility was arrested at his job in Napa Wednesday morning on a charge of molesting a Long Beach foster child for more than a decade, and is under suspicion of molesting at least four other boys going back to the 1970s.

The 35 felony count charge filed against Claude Edward Foulk Jr., includes 22 counts of forcible oral copulation, 11 counts of sodomy by use of force, and two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

All 35 counts pertain to one alleged victim, a foster child who was 10 when Foulk made a home for the boy in the fall of 1992. That is when the alleged abuse began and it continued until 2003, said Jane Robison, a DA spokeswoman.

The accuser came forward when he found out Foulk was in charge of Napa State Hospital, which houses the criminally insane and sex offenders, Robison said.

Foulk could face more than 280 years in prison if convicted on all counts, she said.

The 62-year-old accused child molester was arrested at the hospital's campus at 8:30 a.m. by Long Beach Police Department Sex Crimes detectives, said Deputy District Attorney Lesley Klein.

The former Executive Director of the hospital, who usually went by his middle name, was arrested on a $3.5 million warrant issued by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Monday and was driven from Napa to Long Beach Wednesday afternoon. He is expected to be arraigned by no later than Friday, Robison said.

Robison said the victim was 10 years old when the alleged molestation began in 1992 and the abuse continued until 2003.

Investigators have found at least four other alleged victims with incidents dating back to 1975, said Sgt. Dina Zapalski, a Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman.

All the victims were boys, the sergeant said, and all but one were located in Long Beach. The only alleged victim not tied to Long Beach was molested in Rancho Murieta, a Northern California community, Zapalski said.

"The Long Beach crimes date from 1975 to 2004. The Northern California crimes (date) from 2004 to 2006," Zapalski said.

Robison said so far no counts have been filed on behalf of the other victims, primarily due to the statute of limitations. As more information is gathered in the investigation more counts may be filed, she said.

And police said they are still searching for victims and urge anyone who may have been a victim to come forward.

"The investigators have reason to believe that there may be more victims we do not know about," the sergeant said, adding that anyone who is a victim or who knows of a victim should immediately call the Sex Crimes Detail at 562-570-7368.

The arrest of Foulk, who was terminated from his position with the Department of Mental Health immediately upon his arrest, caused a maelstrom of media coverage in the Napa area, officials said.

Nancy Kincaid, communications director for the California State Department of Mental Health, confirmed Wednesday that Foulk was executive director at the state's largest mental hospital until his termination Wednesday morning.

Kincaid said Foulk had worked at the Napa hospital since March 1, 2007.

She said the hospital was not notified of the investigation until Wednesday morning, when police arrived at the campus and arrested Foulk.

She also stressed that none of the victims were tied to his work at the hospital, which was confirmed by police.

Zapalski said all of the victims were known to Foulk, but none of them were connected to the Napa State Hospital.

Investigators, however, declined to release the exact relationship between Foulk and the victims or any further details about the case, Zapalski said.

At the time of Foulk's appointment to Napa State Hospital he was lauded for his lengthy career in mental health services in both the private and public sectors.

Prior to Napa State, Foulk worked for the state Department of Mental Health as the Chief of Program, Policy and Fiscal Support. Prior to that, he held positions as chief executive officer and chief operating officer of private community acute psychiatric hospitals, including CPC Horizon Hospital and Clinic in Pomona and CPC Alhambra Psychiatric Hospital in Rosemead, according to a Department of Mental Health press release.

As executive director of the Napa State Hospital, Foulk oversaw more than 2,300 employees who provide clinical, administrative and support services for the daily activities of the hospital and treatment of more than 1,100 patients who reside at the hospital.

Founded in 1875, Napa State Hospital is one of five hospitals in the state's mental health system and is the only state hospital for mentally ill individuals in Northern California. It is located on 138 acres in the City of Napa, the hospital provides mental health services to individuals who are civilly committed by county mental health departments and judicially committed by the courts, according to the hospital's Web site.

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1261.