INDIANAPOLIS – A Monroe County, Indiana couple have been sentenced for their roles in a scheme to sexually abuse five children and keep that scheme hidden from authorities. Matthew Cole, 31, was sentenced to over 41 years in prison and his wife, Dolores Cole, 41, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. All of the children were rescued as a result of the investigation.
Beginning in 2014, the Coles were living in Arizona and had custody, care, or supervisory control of six children. A child protection agency received a report that one or both Coles were sexually abusing the children. Over the next few years, multiple allegations of abuse were made. To avoid having the children permanently removed from their care and to prevent police or child protection agencies from discovering the sexual abuse, the Coles moved the children to residences in different states. The Coles moved through Arizona, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and ultimately to Indiana, where their scheme ended when search warrants were executed at their residence in August of 2018.
The investigation by authorities in Indiana uncovered evidence that five of the six children had been sexually abused. And investigators found evidence that Matthew Cole produced and distributed sexually explicit images of one of the children. Investigators also learned that both Coles threatened the children, telling them that they should not tell law enforcement officers what was happening to them, which led to prolonged abuse of the children.
Mathew Cole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport minors across state lines with the intent to engage in a criminal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of a child, and witness tampering. Dolores Cole pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact to sexual exploitation of a child, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
“The pain and damage inflicted on these children at the hands of adults they trusted is unimaginable,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “No sentence of imprisonment will undo what these victims have suffered, but the serious consequences imposed for these heinous offenses demonstrate that those who sexually exploit vulnerable children will be held accountable for their reprehensible actions.”
“To prey on children in your care and harm them in such a heinous way is reprehensible and beyond comprehension,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “Their sentences should serve as a strong reminder that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to identifying and holding accountable those who victimize innocent children to ensure they can never again inflict such abuse.”
This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Indiana Department of Children’s Services.
According to Assistant United States Attorneys Bradley P. Shepard and Kristina M. Korobov, who prosecuted the case, Matthew Cole must pay restitution of $50,000 to the victims and will be supervised for the remainder of his life following release from prison. Dolores Cole must pay restitution of $18,000 to the victims and will be supervised for 3 years following her prison term.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc