WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Winter Haven area church pastor has been arrested on a charge of sexual battery against a victim under 12.
On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested 43-year-old David Cooper, who is the pastor of Mountain Movers Ministries in Eloise.
Deputies arrested him for the sexual battery of a girl under the age of twelve, and for lewd exhibition with another girl under twelve.
The investigation began in September of 2017 when deputies responded to Winter Haven Hospital regarding a possible sexual abuse of a girl under twelve.
The girl told detectives that Cooper had exposed himself to her on four occasions over the past year.
During the investigation, it was learned that there might be a second victim of Cooper’s. That person, who is now an adult, said that Cooper sexually abused her numerous times when she was a child. This included sexual intercourse at least five times when she was between 10 to 12-years-old.
Surveillance was conducted of a conversation between the now-adult victim and Cooper in which she recalled his sexual abuse of her and he repeatedly told her that he was sorry for it.
“One of the stressful aspects of working in law enforcement, is having to come face-to-face with horrendous acts by a child predator. It’s because of the dedication of our deputies who investigated this, and other crimes like it, and the willingness of victims and witnesses to come forward, that this man won’t be able to do this to any child ever again,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Detectives say Cooper did not meet his victims at church.
“I’m shocked, shocked. Knowing him, I’m in a state of disbelief. Pastor Cooper is a very spiritual man,” said congregation member Damian Smith. “Totally Bible-based. I can only reflect on the character of the man that I know.”
“My hot water heater went out and he went out of his way and he went and bought one for us. During church, a lot of churches take up collections, since we’ve been there almost two months, I haven’t seen not one collection.”
David Cooper was charged with Sexual Battery, victim under 12 (FC), and Lewd/Lascivious Exhibition, victim under 12 (F-2).
He has no known prior criminal history.
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