Former Rock Hill attorney accused of fondling child

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comOctober 15, 2013 

Adrian Cooper

— A former Rock Hill attorney banned from practicing law after he forged a judge’s signature on legal documents and misused funds a client gave him for a property sale allegedly fondled a girl over a four-year period, police say.

Police in August charged Adrian Cooper, who in the 1990s served as the vice president of the Rock Hill branch of the NAACP, with third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was released from jail on a $20,000 bond.

On Tuesday, Cooper, 46, decided to waive his preliminary hearing, though he was scheduled to appear before a magistrate, who would decide if police had probable cause to charge him.

If the judge did not find probable cause, the charges against Cooper would have been dismissed.

Accusations of abuse

In February, a nurse with Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph called police to report that a girl, 12, told her that Cooper had been touching her “in a sexual way” when she visited him at his Fieldcrest Circle home off Celanese Road, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

The girl’s mother took her to the hospital, the report states, but the nurse was unable to provide specific details of the alleged abuse.

The nurse told police she called the state Department of Social Services, which told her to notify police.

As police investigated, they learned Cooper had touched the girl inappropriately several times between 2008 and 2012, according to an arrest warrant.

The girl, who was 8 years old when the alleged abuse first started, was interviewed at Safe Passage, a shelter for abused women and children.

After police issued warrants for his arrest, Cooper turned himself in to authorities.

Past problems

In 2008, the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel disbarred Cooper after learning he forged a judge’s and opposing lawyer’s signatures on legal documents in 2006 pertaining to a divorce action.

That same year, a client planning to purchase property from an out-of-state seller paid Cooper $250 to conduct a title search and prepare a deed.

The client also gave Cooper $16,500 to hold in escrow for the seller until the deed was delivered.

The deed was not delivered until seven months later. In that time, Cooper used the funds for office expenses and sold his own property.

Cooper initially denied any wrongdoing, documents show, and even filed a motion to quash a subpoena for his financial records.

He never complied with the subpoena, though he received a letter from the chair of the state Commission on Lawyer Conduct explaining that he had to adhere to the request.

He was briefly suspended until he produced his records, showing that he misused funds. Cooper admitted that he violated lawyer ethics laws and was disbarred, documents claim.

Denial of allegations

For the past six years, Cooper has worked as a criminal justice professor at ECPI University in Concord, N.C., he told The Herald on Tuesday.

He denied the allegations, saying they are “stupid ... it’s actually very stupid,” he said.

“You shouldn’t read too much into” Cooper waiving the hearing, said Erin Joyner, the assistant York County solicitor prosecuting Cooper.

She declined to discuss anything else about the case.

Cooper’s lawyer, Rock Hill attorney Jim Boyd, decided that Cooper should not have the hearing, he said on Tuesday. He would not elaborate.

“Mr. Cooper does maintain his innocence in this,” Boyd said. “Considering the circumstances, he’s doing OK.”

Boyd would not comment further.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082