Former church deacon accused of three generations of family child abuse
By Dave Pearce
Edward Eli Cooper was sentenced Tuesday in Posey County Superior Court to three years in prison and three years of probation for molesting a 10-year-old female family member in 2010. Cooper lived in Mount Vernon before moving to Evansville three years ago.
But according to Posey County Deputy Prosecutor Jonathan Parkhurst, Cooper was accused of three generations of child abuse during the court proceedings.
“That is what came out in the sentencing hearing that this was the third generation of molesting female children in the family,” Parkhurst said. “There is a letter in the file from the granddaughter talking about how he had molested his own daughter and how he had molested her and the third generation.”
Indiana State Police charged Edward Eli Cooper, 81, with two counts of child molesting, class C felonies, in April.
“Anything that happened against the other two generations happened so long ago that we could not have prosecuted because of the statute of limitations,” Parkhurst said. “They never reported those to the police. But the victim in this case reported fondling on top of the clothing on two separate occasions. The charges for that resulted in the Class C Felonies. He pled guilty to both counts.”
Parkhurst went on to say that Cooper had served as a deacon in a Mount Vernon church and in the letter from the granddaughter, she stated it was even more difficult for her knowing that he was someone who was really involved in the church who was doing that to his own children.
Posey County Prosecutor Travis Clowers described the charges as fondling cases and said Cooper had faced a maximum of eight years in prison.
Posey County Superior Court Judge Brent Almon presided over the case.
“He is 81 years-old, that’s what makes this kind of an interesting case because he is very old and any time in prison may literally be a life sentence for him,” Clowers said. “But these types of crimes are very serious. They just can’t be tolerated at any age.”
“The only agreement we had was that it would be a six-year sentence and the judge would decide how it would be served,” Parkhurst said. “Three years will be servied in the Indiana Department of Corrections with one year on house arrest and the final two years on probation.”
The concern of the family was that he be punished for what he had done to this child but at the same time, the family recognized the fact that he is 81 years old and any sentence he got could very well be a life sentence for him, Parkhurst said. Knowing that he was doing some portion of his sentence in prison was comforting to the family.