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Blount County man sentenced to 33 months for sex crimes


by Darren Dunlap
of The Daily Times Staff

A federal judge sentenced a 41-year-old Blount County man Wednesday to 33 months in prison for two counts of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Kevin Bruce Cooper pleaded guilty Nov. 23, 2004, to a charge of traveling in foreign commerce to engage in sexual conduct with a minor and another charge of possessing a computer that contained three or more images of child pornography.

Nancy Harr, assistant U.S. Attorney, sought a 37-month prison sentence she called ``imminently reasonable.''

Cooper's defense attorney, Joe Costner, sought outpatient treatment for his client and referenced a court-ordered evaluation in support of his reasoning.

``He appears desperate for help,'' said Costner. ``That is what the experts are saying.''

Costner told U.S. District Court Judge Leon Jordan that since being released from custody almost one year ago, there have been no complaints against Cooper.

``He has been under very close scrutiny,'' he said. ``And there has not been one complaint.''

Harr disagreed and said there had been a complaint.

``It's very easy to behave for a short period of time when you have so much at stake,'' Harr said.

According to a stipulation of facts entered along with his plea agreement, Cooper traveled to Thailand ``to meet and develop sexual relationships with Thai nationals who were minors.'' June 29 to July 17, 2000 he traveled with an organized tour group and met and developed a ``consensual sexual relationship'' with a then- 15-year-old male called ``Bird.''

Also, he had a cache of images stored on his computer of young males, several depicting ``sadistic and masochistic sexual activity, which would include painful or violent activity perpetrated upon the children.'' Some images were of boys under 12, and some between the ages of 12- and 18-years-old, according to the stipulation of facts.

``The defendant possessed in excess of 5,900 images, of which in excess 3,000 are indisputably under the age of 18 years,'' according to the document.

Cooper asked the judge for the chance to salvage his life through treatment.

``I've lost everything,'' Cooper said. ``I've lost my business, lost my friends, and most of my family.''

Cooper said he was gay and hid his sexual orientation for years. He was married once, according to his attorney. He worked in the building industry in Blount County.

``I think that's been part of my problem, having to hide who I was for so long,'' Cooper said. ``Just give me a chance to get my life back together, please.''

Jordan also sentenced Cooper to three years of supervised probation once released from prison. He listed a number of special requirements that monitor and limit Cooper's contact with minors, his use of the Internet and require disclosure to employers of his criminal history. He will be required to register on the state's sex offender registry.

The judge dismissed two other charges against Cooper, one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography and one count of attempting to transport a minor in interstate commerce for sexual purposes.

Charges against Cooper in Blount County Circuit Court on five counts of rape, four counts of statutory rape, two counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of sexual battery were dismissed Dec. 2004 based on federal prosecution.