One of Two Newton Brothers Charged with Sexually Abusing Minor Will Serve Prison Time


Dustin Cooper (WHO-HD)

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NEWTON, Iowa  --  A Newton man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday for sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl.

Dustin Cooper is not the only family member accused of hurting the girl, but is the only one facing time in prison.

“On each count, he shall serve an indeterminate prison term not to exceed 25 years," said Judge Terry Rickers as he handed down Cooper's sentence.

The victim's family fought tears while listening to the man who admitted to sexually abusing the young girl. Cooper also appeared emotional as he apologized for his actions.

“I want to apologize for what I did," he said.

Cooper will be eligible for parole after serving 17 years of his 25-year sentence. Once free, he must register as a sex offender.

“Justice was partially served. Still, it's unfortunate to continuously hear that because someone isn't very intelligent they can get a reduced sentence," said Nate Bradbury, the victim's uncle.

Prosecutors and the victim’s family wanted 75 years in prison without the chance of parole.

“He should have gotten longer because I feel like if you get out at 57 you can still be a predator and still do it again," said the victim's aunt, Sarah Bradbury.

However, the judge granted a lighter sentence after hearing from a doctor who said Cooper didn’t understand what he was doing when he molested the minor.

“Dustin Cooper is an individual who is very intellectually impaired. He may be a 39-year-old man, but in regards to his intellectual abilities, he really is more of a pre-teen,” said a defense witness.

Cooper's defense says the 10-year-old came on to Dustin.

"His statement is that this girl approached him, that he said no, and when she asked more he gave into that and they had sexual activity,” Cooper's defense attorney said.

Dustin Cooper's brother, Shawn Cooper, admitted to sexually abusing the same girl. Last week, though, a court found Shawn Cooper mentally incompetent to stand trial, so the charges were dropped and he was let go.

"Competency or no competency, another guy not very intelligent, but he knew that he committed those acts," Nate Bradbury said.

The state is working to file a 229A, which is a code that would allow police to take Shawn Cooper back into custody. The victim's family hopes Shawn can join his brother in prison.


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