Audie Bryan Cooper – Repeat Sex Offender – Hung out with Girl Scout Troop

A convicted pedophile who was living with a Girl Scout troop leader when arrested in March pleaded guilty Friday to Measure 11 sex abuse charges in connection with two cases in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Audie Bryan Cooper, 40, pleaded guilty Friday to unlawful sexual penetration in a case involving a Dec. 15 assault on a developmentally delayed adult. Judge Bill Purdy accepted Cooper’s guilty plea and immediately sentenced him to eight years and three months in prison and 20 years of supervised probation. A lesser charge of second-degree sex abuse was dismissed.

“He pleaded guilty to the top charge and he’ll do the maximum,” said District Attorney David Hoppe.

Cooper also pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse in a second case related to a child. Details about the incidents were not revealed to protect the victims’ identities, but they were not believed to have occurred at troop meetings.

Hoppe said neither victim wished to speak in court regarding Cooper’s actions.

“Everyone agreed this was the way to go. They did not wish to be present,” said Hoppe.

Cooper will be sentenced for the second Measure 11 offense after a presentencing investigation is completed. He will serve additional time for at least a portion of the second mandatory prison sentence, he said.

“Mr. Cooper is going to be in prison for a very long time,” said Cooper’s defense attorney, Michael Bertholf.

Two Measure 11 convictions mean Cooper could end up with a life sentence if he offends again, Hoppe said.

Cooper was arrested on March 20 by Medford police at the home of Girl Scout troop leader Shannon Nilsson after a tip alerted police that Cooper, a registered sex offender in New Mexico, had failed to register in Oregon. Nilsson said she did not know Cooper had a history as a sex offender. She has resigned as troop leader.

Parents voiced concerns after discovering that Cooper, who had attended Girl Scout functions, had a history as a sexual predator. Candace Bartow, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of the Winema Council, said in March that she informed the council immediately and left messages about the alleged abuse with the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Child Welfare Division and the Children’s Advocacy Center the day after Cooper’s arrest.

Bartow waited until the following week to send a letter to the parents of Troop 2036, which comprises about 10 young girls. Bartow said at the time it was her understanding that Cooper was a stepparent of a troop member. Girl Scout policy guidelines at the time of Cooper’s arrest did not require them to perform background checks on volunteers, she said.

Cooper had been held in the Jackson County Jail on $1 million bail before Friday’s conviction.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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