Foster mother charged with permitting sex abuse

Published: 8/29/2008 12:07 AM

Twice before, Patricia Cooper was investigated on assault charges, but they were determined to be unfounded.

This time, authorities say, they're valid.

In November 2006 and January 2008, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigated abuse complaints against Patricia Cooper, mother of Christopher Cooper, the 26-year-old Rosemont man charged last week with sexually assaulting two girls over a period of several years. According to authorities, the victims were in Patricia Cooper's care at the time the incidents allegedly took place.

DCFS spokesman Jimmie Whitelow said investigators found no credible evidence to support the allegations previous allegations. But this week, in the wake of criminal charges against the 67-year-old woman for permitting the sexual abuse of a child, DCFS has launched a new investigation against her. In addition, DCFS representatives have removed Cooper's three adopted children from her home.

Cooper, who is currently out on bond, has been charged with a Class 1 felony, which carries a sentence of four to 15 years if she's convicted, said assistant state's attorney Matt Medina. According to Medina, the victims, now 15 and 18, had informed Patricia Cooper about the abuse at the hands of Cooper's son.

"The children were constantly going to her for help," said Medina "and she told them not to tell anybody."

Medina said Cooper threatened the girls and told them they'd get in trouble and would be moved to a different home if they repeated their allegations.

The elder Cooper was a licensed foster parent from 1981 to 2003, said Whitelow. Since 1990, she has served as the president of the Illinois Council on Adoptable Children, an adoption support group.

Christopher Cooper is being held without bond in the Cook County Jail.