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Former youth pastor arrested in Alabama for sex abuse during 1976 bible study in Spartanburg County

SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – An Alabama man has been arrested and extradited to South Carolina after a sex crime that took place during a Bible study in Spartanburg County back in 1976, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Kevin Bobo said deputies began investigating in October 2018 after a special victims unit investigator received a call from an investigator with the Robertsdale Police Department in Alabama. That agency had received a complaint about possible sexual abuse but was unable to charge the suspect.

The alleged sexual abuse involved at least three victims, one of whom still resides in Spartanburg County.

“Our investigator also learned the suspect was a youth intern pastor at Central Church of Christ in Spartanburg in 1976, and that the offense occurred at the victim’s former residence during a bible study,” Bobo said.

The three victims told deputies they had reached out to the suspect, Peter William Cooper, 63, on social media and that he apologized to them.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office sent an investigator to Alabama to speak to Cooper and, per Bobo, Cooper stated he didn’t remember all the details but admitted apologizing to the victims.

After leaving Spartanburg County, deputies learned Cooper had primarily been employed at churches in Alabama.

“When she got back to Spartanburg, our investigator discussed the case with the Solicitor’s Office and then a magistrate, who approved a warrant on the suspect for lewd act on a minor, since that was the applicable law in 1976,” Bobo stated.

According to the arrest warrant, Cooper reached under a 13-year-old’s dress and groped her while she was playing the piano during a Bible study at the victim’s home.

Cooper was arrested in Alabama last week and extradited to South Carolina on Sunday.

Central Church of Christ sent their members a letter back in November after learning of the allegations against Cooper.

Bobo said one of the other three victims was reportedly abused in Greenville County and that deputies with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation as well.

Deputies are asking anyone else who may have been a victim of Cooper to come forward.

“Since this case is the third one in less than a week involving pastors and sex offenses, our special victims unit would strongly encourage any other victims of these 3 suspects or any other suspects to come forward, especially since South Carolina doesn’t have a statute of limitations,” Bobo said.

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