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BOLIVIA—A former detective sergeant with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has been sentenced to prison for indecent liberties with a minor.
According to court documents Henry Thomas Cole, 46, pleaded guilty in Brunswick County Superior Court on May 10 to indecent liberties with a minor, a felony.
Cole, of 2454 Southport-Supply Road, Bolivia, was first charged and arrested by agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on April 24, 2011.
Assistant district attorney Meredith Everhart said outside prosecutors from the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office oversaw the prosecution to avoid any potential conflict of interest given Cole’s law enforcement background.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis sentenced Cole to 13-20 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Lewis also recommended Cole seek substance abuse treatment and psychiatric and/or psychological counseling. The court further recommended Cole be provided safety while in custody since he was former law enforcement.
In a previous interview with the Beacon, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said he requested SBI agents conduct a criminal investigation when he learned about the allegations against Cole. Cole was fired before charges were filed.
Cole’s arrest report states he “feloniously did take and attempt to take immoral, improper, and indecent liberties with [the victim] who was under 16 for the purpose of arousing and gratifying sexual desire.”
The Brunswick Beacon does not identify victims of sexual assault.
District attorney Jon David previously said he would seek outside prosecution of Cole’s case.
“Sgt. Cole is a longtime member of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office who has a number of cases currently pending in the criminal justice system. The public should have every confidence that justice in this case will be decided based upon the facts of the law.
“I have asked for a prosecutor from outside this jurisdiction to be appointed to handle this matter. Both the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office recognize the importance of having outside independent agencies handle this case in order to prevent any conflict of interest,” David said.
Cole had been with the sheriff’s office since July 1991. In 2008, he was promoted to detective and a drug agent, and was later promoted to detective sergeant. His most recent salary increase in 2009 earned him an annual salary of $43,395.
Caroline Curran is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.