Elmore County man at the center of growing SC sex abuse investigation

Elmore County man charged with new crime in SC

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Another South Carolina law enforcement agency charged Peter W. Cooper with one count of a lewd act involving a minor in connection to child sex abuse allegations that date back to the late 1970s.

The Greenville County Sheriff's Office handed down the charge Wednesday for one of the three victims who are now adults, accusing Cooper of sexually molesting them when they were young girls.

Tuesday the authorities in Spartanburg, South Carolina announced a single charge of lewd act with a minor for an alleged crime that occurred in 1976.

Cooper was arrested at his home in Elmore County and extradited to South Carolina.

The victims say the abuse occurred during church-related activities like home Bible study and Bible camp.

A victim spoke to WSFA 12 News by phone on Wednesday and conveyed that she and her close friend had discussed they were both child sex abuse survivors, but it was years before they discovered they had been abused by the same reported offender. Another woman who attended a church that was affiliated with Cooper was allegedly molested by him.

The victim said she recently contacted Cooper through social media and he apologized. She took that information to authorities, who ultimately opened an investigation and brought charges.

One of the victims, who says she was molested by Cooper in Alabama, reported the information to investigators. However, authorities couldn't bring charges because the statute of limitation had run out.

Investigators confirm Cooper moved to Alabama after a short stint in South Carolina and served as minister for multiple churches across the state.

So far, no local victims have been reported.

Most recently, up until his arrest, Cooper was in fellowship with Prattville Church of Christ. Church leadership confirms he did not place membership nor was he on the payroll, but was invited to speak last fall. They described his attendance as irregular for some time, but he attended more frequently during the last year.

An elder said as soon as they learned of the allegations, they ensured Cooper did not have access to children. Based on legal advice, they approached members individually who may have had one on one contact with Cooper to advise them of the allegations.

Church leadership confirmed they have not received allegations nor know of any victims in their church, but they stand ready to cooperate with authorities.

During a phone conversation, an elder expressed they were 'very concerned' for anyone who may have been hurt or has been hurt by Cooper, and they are concerned for his soul and the souls of those who have been impacted.

Other Churches of Christ across the state where Cooper allegedly served as a minister have not returned our calls.

If you have any information on this investigation, you’re asked to contact your local police department.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.