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Underage sex romp garners 20 years with 18 suspended

| March 21, 2006 11:00 PM

A 47-year-old Libby man was sentenced Monday to 20 years with 18 suspended for felony charges stemming from a home video showing two teen-age girls engaged in sexual activity.

David Alexander Cooper pleaded guilty in December to sexual abuse of a child in exchange for an agreement from the county attorney's office to dismiss additional charges of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault. All three charges carry a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison. The charge to which Cooper pleaded guilty has no minimum sentence while the other two charges carry a minimum sentence of four years.

The plea agreement contained no recommendation regarding sentencing. Cooper's sentencing followed completion of a court-ordered pre-sentence report and psycho-sexual evaluation.

The sentence handed down by Judge Michael Prezeau on Monday was stiffer than the 10-year suspended sentence recommended in the report and endorsed by County Attorney Bernie Cassidy. Defense attorney Amy Guth had requested a six-year deferred sentence, which could be removed from Cooper's record following successful completion of probation.

Cooper was given one week to consider withdrawing his guilty plea and taking his case to trial.

According to an affidavit filed in district court, the investigation that led to the charges against Cooper started in August 2004 when a county sheriff's deputy received an envelope containing a videotape depicting a man and two teen-age girls engaged in sexual activity. The date on the videotape indicated it had been recorded in April 2003. The deputy identified the man on the tape as Cooper, who would have been 44 at the time. He identified the girls as having been 17 and 14 years old when the tape was made.

A detective talked with the younger girl, who at first denied having had any sexual contact with Cooper but later admitted to it, saying that she did not think he had done anything wrong, the affidavit contends. The older girl later told the detective that she had been contacted by the younger girl, who told her Cooper was in trouble and urged her to say the date on the tape was wrong. The girl told the detective the date on the tape was correct and that the tape was recorded at Cooper's home. She said she was "dating" Cooper at the time.

The charges that were dismissed related to Cooper's alleged sexual contact with the younger girl. The charge to which he pleaded guilty stemmed from the video recording of the two girls engaged in sexual activity with each other.