FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Superior Court jury found former Ruby pastor Richard Cook guilty of charges he sexually abused a girl who was under his legal guardianship.
Cook, 48, remained motionless and stared at the floor as Judge Mark Wood pronounced him guilty of 12 felony counts Thursday.
The verdict concluded the trial of a man who had seemed a paragon of virtue: In addition to serving as a Baptist minister after his arrival in Ruby in 1996, Richard and his wife, Mary Cook, had had a total of 10 children living under their roof. Only one was their natural child. The others were foster children and adoptees from troubled homse in South Dakota.
But during Cook's seven-day trial prosecutor Teresa Foster painted a picture of a home in which threats and regular spankings with a wooden plank by both Richard and Mary Cook were used to keep the children in line and also to keep them quiet about the sexual abuse Richard Cook inflicted upon the victim and, allegedly, several of his other foster daughters.
The allegations against Cook first came to light when Alaska State Troopers interviewed the then-14-year-old victim after she attempted suicide in April 1998. She told troopers that Cook had been sexually abusing her since October 1997.
Cook was ultimately charged with five counts of first-degree and six counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, and one count of first-degree indecent exposure. The jury found him guilty on all counts.
Foster said she intends to argue for a lengthy sentence, based on the duration of Cook's abuse of the victim as well as his alleged sexual abuse of other children in the household. Foster said she believes Cook abused at least three other foster daughters.
In addition to his sexual abuse conviction, Cook is also due to be sentenced in May for fleeing the state while free on bail in July 1998. Cook was ultimately tracked down in Canada and returned to Alaska in October 2000.
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