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22 November 2013, 16:40
A former Olympic torch bearer who repeatedly abused a child more than 30 years ago has been jailed.
Graham Cooper appeared at Canterbury Crown Court today (22 November) and was sentenced to three years in prison for sexual offences which took place between 1982 and 1985.
Cooper, 69, formerly of Church Road, New Romney, had previously admitted two counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a female aged under 14. He was sentenced to twelve months in prison for these offences. Cooper was sentenced to a further two years for an offence he had denied, after a jury found him guilty of one count of sexual assault by penetration. He was found not guilty on a further charge of rape of a girl under the age of 16.
Kent Police arrested Cooper in July last year. He had been chosen to be a torch bearer for the London 2012 Olympics, which led to him being recognised by his victim.
During interviews Cooper confessed to officers he had abused a child from when she was as young as ten years old. He also admitted paying money into his victim's bank account when she was older, in the hope this would persuade her not to report the abuse.
Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Pritchard said: ‘This is a man that for years has carried on as an apparently respectable community member and who throughout has hidden a very dark secret. Cooper has shown no regard for the long term scars of distress and trauma he has left his victim for thirty years. He has accepted only part of his guilt but minimised the most serious part of his abuse of a defenceless child.’
Placing Cooper under a sexual offences prevention order and ordering he sign the sex offenders' register, both indefinitely, Judge Adele Williams said: ‘During the trial, it was apparent to everyone that your abuse has had a profound effect on everything. You have damaged her (the victim’s) life.’
DCI Pritchard urged other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report offences, even if they had occurred a long time ago.
He said: ‘Kent Police recognises that all forms of sexual abuse have a massive long term impact on each victim, which can damage their physical and emotional development, relationships and their ability to enjoy childhood and adult life. We are committed to ensuring that we listen to accounts of abuse and put as full a case as possible for consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service. There are a number of measures that we use to support a victim and there are a number of support agencies within Kent that also provide help. All of these things not only bring justice, but help us to prevent offenders going on to abuse other children in the future.’