Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Trucker accused of 202 sex charges

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - An over-the-road truck driver accused of soliciting parents over the Internet to have sex with their children now faces 202 felony sex charges.

A Warren County grand jury indicted Michael Cooper, 30, of Elizabethtown, Ky., Monday with 200 counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and two charges of importuning.

County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said half of the pandering charges involve possession of child pornography; the remainder were for allegedly taking the pictures across state lines in his laptop.

Cooper remains in the Warren County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail since his arrest in early May.

A wary mother in Akron, Ohio, called police after she saw Cooper's request in a chat room, in which he used the screen name "iwanttobeadad" and sent out messages seeking to meet parents with kids in the Monroe area.

The woman responded to the messages, saying she had two kids under 12, and Cooper arranged for her to meet him at the Super 8 Motel off Interstate 75 in Monroe, police said.

Officers found him there along with a laptop computer that included 2,000 pictures of children in various sex acts.

Investigators said Cooper's security system on his computer was so sophisticated that they had to secure a court order to force him to provide his fingerprint to unlock the pornographic files.

"It was the absolute worst I have ever seen," Monroe Detective Michael Staples said of the photo collection.

He said there is no indication that Cooper had solicited sex elsewhere in his travels as a truck driver. "He adamantly denied having sexual contact with a minor, but he said he was trying to. He was willing as long as the parents and kids were willing," Staples said.

E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com

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