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Ex-cheer coach is sentenced

Ex-cheer coach is sentenced

  • Updated

He is given an eight-year prison term for second-degree rape after having sex with a 14-year-old cheerleading student.

A Tulsa County judge sentenced a former Tulsa cheerleading coach to eight years in prison for the second-degree rape of a student.

District Judge Tom Thornbrugh denied a defense lawyer's request to schedule a review that would have given the judge an opportunity to modify Thomas Andrew Cooperrider's punishment within one year of Friday's sentencing.

"There is no point of me giving this young man false hopes," Thornbrugh said.

Cooperrider was 28 when he pleaded guilty March 4 while living in Colorado.

The charge hinged upon allegations that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl when he worked at Cheers on the Move, a private cheerleading school in Tulsa, between November 2000 and August 2001.

According to an arrest report, the Tulsa girl told police that she engaged in sexual intercourse with Cooperrider on at least five occasions.

The rape charge did not allege that any force was used, but by law the girl was too young to consent.

Cooperrider acknowledged Friday that what occurred was "my responsibility."

Thornbrugh said, "I appreciate the sentiment that you want to take full responsibility. You will."

Defense attorney Allen Smallwood maintained that Cooperrider is "not a sexual predator" but was a "decent man" who led a good life "other than this incident."

Assistant District Attorney Brandon Whitworth said the girl has been "suffering some emotional issues" and that Cooperrider "needs to be held fully accountable."

Thornbrugh said the defendant took advantage of the girl's age and trust.

Cooperrider was charged in December and had been free on bail for five months.

He was jailed Friday to await transfer to the Department of Corrections, and the judge recommended that he receive sex-offender treatment while in prison.

Thornbrugh also imposed a $5,000 fine and a $1,000 victims compensation assessment.

Bill Braun 581-8455

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