02/11/2019 - Former Youth Intern Pastor arrested for Lewd Act on a Minor

In October, 2018, one of our special victims unit investigators received a call from an investigator with the Robertsdale Police Department in Alabama. That agency had received information from a Spartanburg County resident that she was the victim of sexual abuse many years prior in their jurisdiction. Because Alabama has a statute of limitations on those type offenses, that agency was unable to charge the suspect. That agency also informed that first victim had spoken to 2 other victims of this same suspect on social media, and that one of those victims still resided in this county, and the other lived out of state. Our investigator contacted all 3 victims and learned one offense by the suspect occurred in Spartanburg County, and the offense against the other victim occurred in Greenville County. Our investigator took detailed statements from all 3 victims, who also shared they had reached out to the suspect via social media, and that he had apologized to them. Our investigator also learned the suspect was a youth intern pastor at Central Church of Christ in Spartanburg in 1976, and that the offense occurred at the victim’s former residence during a bible study. Our investigator then traveled to Alabama and interviewed the suspect, who stated he didn’t remember all the details but admitted apologizing to the victims. Our investigator learned the suspect primarily was employed by churches in Alabama after his short stint in Spartanburg. When she got back to Spartanburg, our investigator discussed the case with the Solicitor’s Office and then a magistrate, who approved a warrant on the suspect for Lewd Act on a Minor, since that was the applicable law in 1976. Suspect was arrested in Alabama last week and extradited back here yesterday. The suspect is Peter William Cooper, W/M, 5040 Ward Rd., Elmore, AL, 36025, and attached above is his booking photo, copies of our warrant and incident report, and also a copy of the letter Central Church of Christ sent their members as soon as they became aware of the allegations in November, 2018. We have already informed the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office of the offense that may have occurred in their jurisdiction, and their investigation remains active. Since this case is the third one in less than a week involving pastors and sex offenses, our special victims unit would strongly encourage any other victims of these 3 suspects or any other suspects to come forward, especially since South Carolina doesn’t have a statute of limitations.