A 7-year-old’s allegation that a Winter Haven pastor exposed his “private spot” to her led to the man admitting he raped a preteen girl in the 1990s, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office says.
David Cooper, 43, faces a charge of sexual battery on a victim under 12 in the older case and a charge of lewd and lascivious exhibition on a victim under 12 in the case from the last few months.
Neither the girl nor the now-adult woman accusing Cooper of sexual crimes met the pastor through his work with Mountain Movers Ministries.
“The small church with the big faith,” as the church refers to itself on its website, lists Cooper as its pastor and says it began in May 2015 with six members. State of Florida records list Cooper as the church’s president and say he incorporated the church in April 2017.
Both accusers met Cooper through women he knows in his personal life.
“We’re realists in this business,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference on Friday. “We know that you don’t sexually abuse a child years ago and do absolutely nothing then, all of a sudden, commit lewd conduct in the presence of a child years later. So what we want to know is are there other victims and where are those victims and please bring them forward.”
Arrest reports say the odyssey between the incidents of now and the 1990s began in September with an allegation of rape on a 7-year-old for which Cooper has not been charged.
A mother told Polk County sheriff’s investigators that her 7-year-old told her that Cooper put his “pee pee” in her “no-no” about eight times. She also said the 7-year-old described Cooper persuading her by telling her that a woman the 7-year-old knew let him do that when the woman was a girl.
The 7-year-old’s mother told cops she knew that woman back then. Though the woman made references back then to Cooper “messing with her,” the 7-year-old’s mother said she never could draw out what exactly happened.
Polk sheriff’s detectives say they tracked down the woman, now 32, in January.
The woman confirmed that sometime during 1995 or 1996, after Cooper began dating her mother and moved in with them, he started coming into her room at night while her mother was asleep. Cooper began by making sexual comments about her body, she recalled, before progressing to “oral sex and touching,” and then to sexual intercourse at least five times from ages 10 to 12.
Doing all that sexual stuff, it messes with a kid’s head, you know what I mean? And growing up and all that and trusting people, I was 10, I was a kid, you know what I mean, it messes with your head and it ----- you up. But you are sorry?
Woman talking to David Cooper about alleged sexual assaults Cooper committed on her when she was a preteen, according to an arrest affidavit
Cooper’s reply to the woman, according to the same arrest affidavit
That day, Polk sheriff’s detectives recorded a phone call between the woman and Cooper. The pastor denied taking the woman’s virginity. Here’s the rest of the conversation, according to the arrest report:
Woman: “What did you do then?”
Cooper: “You know what we did. I can’t really discuss it openly, I’m not standing here alone.”
Woman: “Doing all that sexual stuff, it messes with a kid’s head, you know what I mean? And growing up and all that and trusting people, I was 10, I was a kid, you know what I mean, it messes with your head and it ----- you up. But you are sorry?”
Cooper: “I am.”
The woman told Cooper she ran away from home because “I wanted you to stop doing that. That’s why I had to leave, you understand that right? You knew that all along that I left because of that?”
Cooper: “Yeah, I kind of figured.”
Woman: “Having sex with me and taking my virginity that I was supposed to give to someone that I cared about, then opening me up to all that sexual stuff at such a young age. Do you get a thrill out of that?”
Cooper: “No, I don’t.”
Woman: “Why did you do it? Is it something you can’t control?”
Cooper: “No, it’s not.”
Woman: “So, you’re sorry for having sex with me?”
Cooper: “I’m sorry for what I did to hurt you. I know I was not perfect. I apologize for everything.”
Cooper was booked for that on Feb. 1.
On Wednesday, detectives talked to the girl in the current case.
She said when she was 7 years old last year, Cooper pulled his pants down and exposed his “private spot” to her. He knew she could see his “private spot,” she told detectives, because “he looked at me.”
Once, she recalled, she was on the couch and playing a video game. Another time, her mother “came into the room and she pulled David’s pants back up.”