Police seeking more possible victims in sexual battery case

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By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 7, 2017

Curtis Cooper

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee Police Special Victims Unit is asking for the public's help in identifying possible further victims in an investigation that led to the arrest of Curtis Cooper for sexual battery.

TPD investigators were made aware of the assault after one victim reported the incident on July 13, and they fear there may be unidentified victims due to Cooper's access to the members of different organizations, such as the Community Based Ministries Incorporated, a company he founded.

"Mr. Cooper was in a position which allowed for travel to and from different events, many times with hotel accommodations," said TPD Chief Michael DeLeo. "We are concerned there may be other victims and are hoping to identify them and provide them with the resources they need to begin the healing process."

The case is still under investigation by TPD, and authorities are asking anyone with information about this crime or who believes they were a victim to call (850) 891-4200 or CrimeStoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

By: Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- 38-year-old Curtis Cooper is accused of fondling a young man during a church conference in July.

Cooper is the president of a community-based dance ministry, which has partnered with the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, as well as Love and Faith Community Church.

Police reports show Cooper forced oral sex on a young man. The allegations are leaving local pastors disappointed.

"This kind of behavior and actions and character does not reflect the character of Christians," said Joseph Wright, a local pastor.

The police report says Cooper paid for the victim's hotel room and took the teen's clothes from the bathroom while he was showering, requiring him to come to the bedroom.

According to the report, that's where the alleged sexual battery took place.

Child abuse advocates say 90 percent of the time, a sexual assault happens from someone the victim knows and trusts.

"They don't understand the juxtaposition that the way this person has made them feel safe in other scenarios but yet is willing to do this to them," said Michele Watson, the Lauren's Kids Project Manager.

At first, the victim was scared to report the incident, but later told a family member.

Cooper has denied the allegations.

WCTV has received statements from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, where he is a former member, and from Community Based Ministries, Incorporated, an organization of which he is the CEO. Both statements, in full, can be read below.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2017

TALLAHASSE, Fla. (WCTV) -- WCTV has received a statement from the Board of Directors of Community Based Ministries, Incorporated in response to the allegations that have been made against Curtis Cooper.

The full statement is posted below:

"In responding to allegations of sexual abuse, the highest priorities for CBMI are the well-being and total safety of its participants both minors and adults. We also take great concern for those victimized in our communities. Our determination to keep our youths safe, comes with the knowledge and comprehension that our commitment to those involved go beyond dance but also trust and respect of each other.

Our cooperation with authorities in any event, a participant or anyone connected with the Ministry shall be done so in accordance with federal and state laws. This body is pleased to express we have never had to report to such authorities since the Ministry has been incorporated.

On July 24, 2017, Curtis Cooper, CEO of CBMI announced to this Board, possible charges of alleged sexual abuse being brought against him. The alleged victim is at least 18 years of age and was invited to Tallahassee to participate as a ‘guest drummer’ at the Ministry’s annual ‘Dance You Out the 4 Walls” dance conference.

Mr. Cooper is the Founder and Artistic Director of CBMI. In its seven years of existence, never has Mr. Cooper been alleged to have committed any form of sexual misconduct or a criminal act.

We, the Board of Directors, are taken aback by these allegations and stand concerned with Curtis Cooper as he faces such heinous accusations. It is important that one bear in mind that although we do sympathize with the individual who brought forth these allegations, we cannot fathom Mr. Cooper committing any kind of criminal actions towards anyone. Our prayer is that the alleged victim receives the proper guidance he needs that will allow him to move forward.

The Board of Directors has documented Mr. Cooper’s verbal (telephonic) report of the alleged abuse and will keep it on file for two (2) years. This statement will be made (by hard copy or electronically) available to the state’s Attorney’s office for Leon County, Tallahassee, FL should it be required and or requested.

Mr. Cooper’s reputation comes with dignity and an undisputed prowess in his expertise. He is a well-known and respected community organizer throughout the county and abroad. The Board acknowledges Mr. Cooper’s friendship with the alleged victim (who is not a participant of CBMI).

As mentioned, the alleged victim participated in the dance conference playing the drums and assisting in the culmination of what had become a powerful and exciting weekend of motivational and inspirational workshops, entertainment and worship services.

The Board of Directors takes very seriously allegations of such magnitude, as we believe that such an uninvited violation of one’s own self can lead to and or cause trauma, which may reverberate for years. In this case, we believe it is Mr. Curtis Cooper who has been traumatized and if the allegations should go forth, such trauma will affect the ministry.

In closing, we stand against such acts and behaviors displayed or expressed from anyone within or connected to CBMI. Abuse in any form is frowned upon and is not accepted, as our goal is to create a safe environment for our youth to thrive and reach their full potential. Mr. Cooper has implemented his programs with integrity and has maintained his commitment to the community. We whole-heartedly sstand behind and support Mr. Cooper as we have witnessed him empower our youths to believe in themselves, accomplish their endeavors and become upstanding citizens in our community.

Respectfully Submitted,

The Board of Directors,
Community Based Ministries, Incorporated

Selena Boles
Alexia Jones
Charles Johnson
Mary Leonard"

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- WCTV has received a statement from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in response to allegations against Curtis Cooper, who was arrested on Friday on allegations of sexual assault.

In his statement, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist administrative pastor Daniel Whitfield said, "We are saddened to hear of the allegations against Mr. Cooper, who is a former member of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. Mr. Cooper was granted use of the facilities to host his Dance conference only. Also, it is important to mention that his community-based dance ministry is not affiliated with the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. Our prayers go out to the families of all parties involved and we pray for the best possible outcome in this unfortunate situation."

WCTV has reached out to Love and Faith Community Church, but has not heard back.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The president of a Tallahassee ministry is accused of fondling a young man against his will.

Arrest reports say 38-year-old Curtis Cooper committed sexual battery against an 18-year-old man during a church conference in July.

The two met through a Facebook group, and Cooper invited the victim to the conference.

Authorities say Cooper paid for the young man to attend and put him up in a local hotel. Police say that's where Cooper took advantage of the victim by grabbing him inappropriately and sexually assaulting him in the hotel room.

In an interview with police, Cooper denied the allegations.

Court documents show that Cooper was charged in connection with another sexual battery incident in 2014. That case, in Blountstown, involved a 12-year-old boy.

According to arrest documents, Curtis Cooper runs the Community-Based Dance Ministry, connected with Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and Love and Faith Community Church, both in Tallahassee.

WCTV has reached out to both churches for comment and has not heard back.

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