- November 3, 2021
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Nov. 1—In February 2018, I sat in a barber shop at 23rd and Main streets interviewing well-known local barber Mick Cox.
I'd never met Mick before, but a colleague suggested him as a profile subject for a 24 Hours in Anderson project the newspaper was undertaking.
The idea was to show the diversity of life, work and play in the community by crafting one interesting story from each hour of a single day that February. The articles, accompanied by photos and videos, would then be compiled for publication.
Mick and his little barber shop, it seemed, were ideal for the special report.
The barber shop had a nostalgic feel.
"Timeworn knickknacks line a shelf on the interior wall above the entrance," I wrote. "Country music warbles from a radio in the far corner. Fluorescent-lit mirrors face the three barber chairs. Above one mirror, a warning hangs ominously: 'Mick — Everyone is entitled to my opinion.'"
As the sign suggested, Mick had a sharp sense of humor and was a natural conversationalist.
I spent the better part of two hours in Mick's barber shop as he lit up that dreary February day with humorous anecdotes and interesting observations about Anderson and the state of the world.
He noted that he had cut the hair of Anderson's mayors and other power brokers for decades. And, he said, they would often tell him inside stories about their own lives and the lives of other prominent citizens.
Mick also talked a lot about his barber shop's neighborhood, which had been battered over the decades by the departure of the auto industry from Anderson and had been hit hard more recently by the Great Recession.
Mick said he had a soft spot in his heart for the boys of the neighborhood. Many, he said, came from poor, fractured homes and had the odds stacked against them. He said that he would often give them free haircuts or pay them for odd jobs here and there to help them out.
Those details didn't make it into my article on Mick and his barber shop. The stories for the project were to be limited to about 300 words, and I wanted to focus on the atmosphere of the barber shop and on Mick's personality, not the neighborhood.
I had more than enough material for the story by the time I walked out the door of the shop. And I left thinking that Mick was one heckuva nice guy.
Turns out he might not be.
Mick was arrested Oct. 20 on suspicion of sexual misconduct with a minor. He's also charged with promotion of child sex trafficking, child solicitation, felony and misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and dissemination of material harmful to minors.
According to the probable cause affidavit, police learned on Oct. 12 that two boys had been sexually assaulted by Cox at his home and at his barber shop.
The boys told officers, the affidavit states, that Mick gave them money, alcohol and marijuana in exchange for sex.
I won't go into the other sordid details of the accusations. You can read those in The Herald Bulletin news article about Mick's arrest.
The charges against Mick, to me, testify to one of the many cruel aspects of sex crimes against children: They are often perpetrated by a person in a position of trust, leaving the victim with a scar of distrust that might not fade with the passing of time.
And, in this case, it leaves everyone to wonder whether what appeared to be a charming barber shop might actually have been a house of horrors.
Editor Scott Underwood's column appears Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. Contact him at email@example.com or 640-4845.
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