Pedophile James Alfred Cooper (inset) knew that he was being watched closely while he was out of prison on early release. Yet he still schemed to procure children while he was free in 2014. The depth of Cooper’s deviousness is detailed in the internal parole records (read them after the jump) of the Ontario man who tortured and raped children. Cooper was convicted only of 16 crimes involving six children over a span of 17 years but it is likely there are other victims. Most predatory pedophiles do not abuse just a handful of victims. The six victims for whom convictions were registered were aged seven to 14 at the time of the abuse that included whippings and beatings and forced sex including intercourse. Five of them, four girls and one boy, were his stepchildren from two of his marriages. One was a neighbour’s daughter.
Online searches lead to many stories about Cooper’s crimes – including this powerful 2012 feature by Susan Clairmont that includes interviews with five stepchildren abused by Cooper when he lived on a farm near Hamilton, Ontario.
In January 1994, Cooper was sentenced to 30 years in prison for 16 counts of sexually and physically abusing the six children. Dozens of other charges were dropped. Cooper was convicted of charges of rape, buggery, gross indecency, indecent assault and having sex with girls under the age of 14. The victims had testified that Cooper beat and violated them with his fists, sticks, wet towels, a buggy whip, cat-o- nine-tails, wooden spoons, belts or cattle prods.
“You are a low-down, mean, despicable, evil manifestation of a human being that preys on little children,” judge Nick Borkovich said, in passing sentence. Cooper appealed and the sentence was shortened to 21 years.
Now 80, Cooper appears remorseless and unremittingly predatory, despite his age and despite taking lupron, a drug intended to reduce his sex drive. He has repeatedly violated rules imposed on his early freedom from prison and he has deceived and manipulated corrections and parole staff, records show.
He was released from a minimum-security prison in January 2008 but he was back behind bars by 2012, after repeated violations of his release conditions. In one case, he attended a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a woman who did not know his criminal history. Two children were at the dinner. Cooper sent inappropriate emails to a member of his community support group and a complaint was filed to police that he touched a woman he knew in a sexual way. Charges weren’t laid but Cooper kept the information from his parole supervisor for days. In January 2012, the parole board revoked his release.
He was again released in December 2013, sent to live in a halfway house in Brantford, a small city 100 kilometres southwest of Toronto. Two months later, he was arrested after authorities gathered troubling information that suggested that Cooper was actively hunting victims. The written record of a May 2014 parole decision details what Cooper had done:
… you made calls to a local community centre inquiring about programs for seniors but during one call, asked if “there would be women chasing you around” and during another call, indicated you would have a young child with you and wanted to know what children’s activities coincided with the senior’s programs. The day prior to this event, it is reported that you asked your doctor about lowering your medication dosage so that you could be more sexually responsive to your wife. File information indicates your wife lives in [REDACTED], has not visited you since release and has no plans to do so because of financial strains.
Cooper’s scheming prompted authorities to revoke his freedom and he was returned to penitentiary to serve out the remainder of his 21-year sentence behind bars. The parole board noted, in explaining the decision, that the staff who had supervised his case believed he was “engaging in behaviour which strongly suggests a return to predatory behaviour, potentially against women and children.” Cooper wasn’t charged with any crimes and there’s no way to know definitively whether he assaulted more victims during his brief stretch of freedom. Many child victims of sexual and physical abuse do not report their victimization until many years after the events (see Myths and Facts below).
Cooper was released from prison in January 2015, after he had served every day of his 21-year term. Toronto Police issued a public alert and a current photo, citing Cooper’s “potential to re-offend against children.” A court order was obtained that bars him from visiting daycare centres, school grounds, playgrounds, arcades, public swimming areas or public parks. He was also prohibited from having contact with anyone under age 16 and was prohibited from living with or engaging in a relationship or marriage with a person who is the parent or guardian of children under 16, until that person has been identified to police.
Written records of five decisions (20 pages) of the Parole Board of Canada in Cooper’s case between 2007 and 2014. “Page 2” in the top right corner denotes the beginning of a new decision:
MYTHS about disclosure of child sexual abuse
» If a child is sexually abused s/he will immediately tell a safe adult in her/his life.
» All adults will take action and report a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse.
» Children are more likely to disclose if directly questioned by their parent or an adult authority figure who can help.
FACTS about disclosure of child sexual abuse
» Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; research indicates that only 30% of children disclose their abuse during childhood (Hon. Sydney Robins, 2000).
» Children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. As such, they often delay disclosure until adulthood.
» Children do not always realize that what they have experienced constitutes abuse.
» Disclosures often unfold gradually, and may be presented in a series of hints.
» Children might imply something has happened to them without directly stating they were sexually abused — they may be testing the reaction to their “hint.”
» If they are ready, children may follow-up with a larger hint if they think it will be handled well.