When Delaware child protective investigators responded to a 17-year-old foster child’s complaint of being sexually abused in December, the girl recanted her claim after Wilmington police officer Brandon Cooper was also dispatched to her home.
In a twist that stunned investigators, the girl later shared disturbing allegations about Cooper with a Division of Family Services caseworker.
Cooper, 30, is accused of sending lewd messages, photos, and videos to the girl, who was listed in his contacts as “Yougn,” a misspelling of “young one,” court records show.
Sources familiar with the investigation said it was merely a coincidence that Cooper was dispatched to interview her about the allegation against a different, unidentified man.
But the previous day, as the girl later showed investigators, Cooper allegedly sent her a video in which he wore his police uniform, told her to “look” and then aimed the camera downward as he exposed himself.
The messages continued through January 1, authorities said, with the girl sending nude photos of herself to the officer, who was “encouraging and enticing sexual acts” with the girl. Cooper even set up a liaison with the girl sometime in December, authorities said, but it did not occur because the girl was staying at her foster home and had an 11 p.m. curfew.
In one exchange, the girl said she was only 17, and Cooper responded that he knew she was a minor, authorities said. Cooper also encouraged her to keep their exchanges “secret” and that he did not “like NOBODY in my business.”
The investigation into Cooper culminated this week when a grand jury indicted him for felony sexual solicitation of a child, along with misdemeanor lewdness and official misconduct. If convicted of all three counts, Cooper faces two to 26 1/2 years in prison.
Cooper, who has been a Wilmington cop since 2016, left the force on Feb. 22, city police spokesman David Karas said Tuesday. Authorities are currently waiting for Cooper to surrender and have an initial court appearance before a magistrate, said Mat Marshall, spokesman for Attorney General Kathy Jennings.
Cooper had met the girl in March 2020, when she was 15 years old, while he was on duty at Kingswood Community Center in northeast Wilmington, the indictment said.
Cooper allegedly set up liaison with girl that didn’t occur
Although Cooper had met the girl two years ago, the indictment focused only on text exchanges from November through Jan. 1.
In those texts, which are filled with misspellings, Cooper sometimes referred to her as “baby” and wrote that he hadn’t been involved “wit no younngn in a lonnngg tiem,” the indictment said.
On Dec. 2, the day before she contacted Family Services, Cooper asked if “you gotta boyfriend” and if “U drive or not yet.” She responded “no” to both inquiries.
That same day Cooper allegedly sent the video where he exposed himself while wearing his Wilmington police uniform.
And on Dec. 3, when she contacted authorities, Cooper was dispatched along with a Family Services caseworker.
Though she initially recanted her original accusation about another man while Cooper was trying to interview her with the caseworker, the girl later said the other man’s abuse did occur, WHYY News has learned. That allegation is also being investigated by authorities,
On Dec. 10, Cooper and the girl allegedly communicated about meeting to have sex. During that exchange, he texted “if only u was serious” and she responded, “I am,” the indictment said.
Cooper asked where they would meet and she provided an address to what she called “the foster home.” Cooper replied, “Ok.” She later texted him that “my curfew at 11 p.m.” and the liaison did not occur.
On Christmas Day, she asked him, “Can I see you before I leave for college, Im leaving January 6 2022z” and he replied, “absolutely,” court records show.
That is the last exchange documented in the indictment, though they allegedly continued through New Year’s Day.
“The facts of this case are grave and disturbing,” Jennings said. Cooper “swore an oath to protect our community from this kind of misconduct. His actions broke that trust. He did not simply break the law, he harmed a minor.”
“He urged the victim, whom he knew was a minor, to remain silent about sexually explicit messages. And he remained engaged in his criminal acts for a month. His actions are a serious violation of the law and an abuse of the position of power and trust that he was privileged to hold. He will be held accountable.”
Wilmington police chief Robert Tracy concurred.
“The conduct outlined in the indictment is objectionable and unacceptable in any profession, and even more so among those who take an oath to protect and serve the public,’’ Tracy said. “This is why, immediately upon learning of this, we launched a criminal investigation” and notified prosecutors.