James G. Cooke III, the 17-year-old Flagler Palm Coast High School student charged on Thursday night with a felony for allegedly making a video SnapChat threat of shooting up an unspecified school, was twice before charged with raping children, according to arrest records.
The charges date back to when Cooke was 12 and attending Buddy Taylor Middle School, but refer to separate incidents in 2012 and 2014. He was convicted in one of the two cases and sentenced to a diversion program in January 2015.
According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Cooke was not on probation when he was charged Thursday over the SnapChat posting, a video showing ammunition and making a statement about being ready to shoot up a school. Cooke told authorities that it was just a joke.
In the 2012 case, a 3-year-old boy reported to his grandparents that Cooke “pees in his mouth,” and that he didn’t like it. The boy was interviewed by the child protection team and “was able to answer basic questions,” according to Cooke’s arrest affidavit. The boy told the forensic interviewer that Cooke was “mean to him,” that he hurts him, and that he also “put his pee pee in my butt.” The 3 year old told the interviewer it “happens all the time.”
The 3 year old statements were consistent with those he had made to someone else. Cooke was living with the victim at the time through a familial relationship. The issue was not immediately reported by the child. The victim’s mother sought counseling with the Children’s Advocacy Center when the child developed behaviors “consistent with a victim of sexual abuse,” according to the arrest report.
The victim told his interviewers that he did not want what happened to him happen to his younger brother. The victim, the arrest report states, “graduated from his therapy session [ion April 2014] after successfully learning the needed skills for coping with different emotions and implementing a safety plan for home.” The report also notes that the counselor wrote a Flagler County judge to express her concern, though the details of that concern are blanked out from the report. But she noted that the child had anxiety, and that it was warranted.
In the 2014 case, a 2-year-old boy who had just returned from visitations with his father complained of similar issues. The boy’s parent notified the Department of Children and Families, because she had experienced the same issues with the boy’s older brother. A physical exam at the Children’s Advocacy Center revealed evidence of rape. The doctor who performed the exam said the injuries observed “were caused by blunt force trauma,” and the doctor’s report was forwarded to law enforcement.
The 2-year-old child was not old enough to sit for a forensic interview. He was immediately enrolled in counseling with mental health specialists. But therapists, using bandaids on an anatomical figure made to seem the same age as the victim, saw the child point to the band aids “where he was hurt,” and disclosed to the therapist who hurt him. The 2 year old said he told his dad about it, and that Cooke got in trouble for it.
The 2-year-old child’s mother reported that he was having nightmares, would scream “stop,” and exhibit behavior similar to that of his brother after his brother had been sexually assaulted. Cooke, according to the report, denied all allegations when interviewed by a Flagler County Sheriff’s detective.
Sheriff Rick Staly was asked about the allegations of sexual abuse in Cooke’s background when Staly was on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays this morning. Staly at the time said he was not personally aware of the matter, but looked into it, and his office provided the reports of Cooke’s arrest. Later in the day, he spoke of serious concerns with the student’s history.
After his arrest Thursday, Cooke made statements that suggested self-harm, so he was Baker Acted at a psychiatric facility in Daytona Beach. He was to be turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice once his observation period elapsed. His father told authorities that the department could have him. He faces a third-degree felony for the threats posted on SnapChat.
Asked how Cooke could be in the school system with his previous record, a district spokesman said Cooke’s case could not be discussed due to privacy rules. “That being said,” the spokesman added, “students attending a Flagler County Public School are in compliance with state laws and school board policies, and with consideration of ensuring the safety of all students, faculty and staff.”
Based on previous history, the likely outcome of Cooke’s status in school, regardless of his case in the criminal justice system, is expulsion from school, and continuing education through a home-based, district-supervised program. His age being what it is, it is also likely that Cooke may complete his high school education in that setting. The district does not disclose students’ status, nor are disciplinary or expulsion hearings public.
Fed up Flagler parent says
Again a problem individual that ShOULD NOT be in our schools!!!!
How is a rapist of 2-4 year olds no less allowed in our school system!!
Concerned resident says
This is incredibly sad. Those poor babies going through that abuse.
Happening now says
This is incredibly tragic. Abusers like this have oftentimes been the victim of abuse themselves.
Heres another we all will be supporting and or subject to their behavior on the streets SMH lock it up
Willy Boy says
In the words of every newscaster, “Disturbing.”
Disgusted in Flagler County says
I am boggled that this psychopath never did any time for raping children. I am disgusted and extremely angry that he was allowed to attend public school without anyone knowing that he is a child rapist. What is going on in Flagler County FL?????? This disgusting 17 year old needs to be punished as an adult! Raping children???? Threatening to shoot up the school????? This could have turned out extremely bad for Flagler County. I am absolutely sickened by this small town mentality that keeps secrets and allows child rapists to live freely amongst the innocent and unknowing. This kid needs to be punished and the Flagler County judicial system needs an investigation.
So a dangerous, violent, psychopathic child rapist will stay at home, in the community – to do it all again.
This is outrageous. I am sickened. How could a child rapists be allowed to attend public school with other children? How could Flagler Schools allow this to happen? The system, both judicial and school system, completely failed to protect our children in Flagler County and I am beyond disappointed and disgusted with this.
It sounds to me like this young man needs to be in a secure sexual offenders treatment program somewhere far away from his old haunts and whatever parental/supervisory influences have failed him here. Since the chances are high that he was a victim of sexual assault himself somewhere along the way and may have other challenges that contribute to his being vulnerable to cycles of victimization of self AND others, whatever facility would be located would have to be a highly structured one, both for his own safety and welfare and that of others. While I am sure it would be a tall order to find such a place, I hope an effort will be pursued towards this end. The way our justice system works, he won’t have the option of alternative treatment that he has been receiving up to this point for much longer.
Yup, home schooling will fix the problem. LOL. When does the community reach its limit? After someone dies? How many red flags does it take for someone to get removed from our society?
How is a child rapist not expelled from the school system!!!!!!!!
Cooke should have been locked up along time ago in a Juvenile center or a mental facility. What’s wrong with our justice system, where they think sick people will get better.
What about the people who work at the school? Don’t we deserve some protection from criminals? Years ago when I questioned why we had to have a student charged with assault with a deadly weapon in class, I was told that they had not been convicted.
The original woody says
No child left behind..Get it.
@ The original woody, tell that to their parents or whomever is in charge of them.
This kid is broken he can’t be cured by anyone put him in a mental hospital and keep him their so he can’t hurt anyone else.
A 17 year old female student @ FPC says
I do not know this kid. But everyone who is angry with FPC for letting this student attend seems to forget that a lot of the time rape cases go unreported or uninvestigated or they are not taken to court. When cases are taken to court they usually hurt the victim more than they wouldve if it had just been left alone hecause the suspect is rarely charged as guilty. I seem to remember a similar situation and almost every comment claimed the little girls who reported were only out to ruin the mans life. So i ask now … what is the difference? Is it that the man from the previous case was a football player or maybe its the fact it wasnt gay rape it was straight rape? Maybe you find that more justifiable? Students everywhere are rapists. Your coworkers or bosses or friends or family could be rapists. It happens all the time and quite honestly goes ignored or unnoticed because as a society we find ways to justify it or to put victims down and make them feel unheard.
To anyone afraid of speaking… i hear you & your story is valid.
He is just a kid who has made mistakes just like everyone else, I 100% believe that this was completely a joke and the past is the past he doesn’t deserve all of the hate that people are giving him he is a good person and I’m sure that one day he will prove all of you wrong
Ur nuts man says
Would you let him near your young kids?
As a friend and classmate of Cookes i am well aware of his background and i have move WAY more internal information on his full past then most outside the family so in his defense he is a troubled young adult and needs to be subjegated to sensitivity training because joking or nah given the timing of his comments shit could really have gone left field for him n still can. Now heres where i comment on the system. Juvenile Sex Offenders have the LEAST chances of reoffending when placed in a proper facility tailored to those offenses in the 13-19 age bracket. James DID attemd such a facility and clearly graduated all Evals otherwise he wouldnt have been free n we wouldnt have this debate. Furthermore hes in the School system still for 3 reasons. 1) he was a minor. 2) hes not a registered sex offender. 3) these allegations were made by mere babies who arent old enough to attend school WHICH means no offenses were commitex on school property which WOULD have been automatic expulsion. So before we judge ANY one we must look into what we as a communiry n a state is doing wrong cuz judging by 2020 Florida aint doing shit correctly