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Ex-magistrate Simon Cooper pleads guilty to indecent assault against boys

An interstate judge will be called to ensure independence in the case of a Victorian magistrate who has admitted indecently assaulting two teenage brothers.
Simon Mitchell Cooper, 56, formally pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecent assault in the County Court on Tuesday.
Six charges relate to the abuse of one boy throughout 1984, and the seventh charge involves the boy's brother, who was indecently assaulted in 1986.
Judge Mark Taft said an interstate judge would hear Cooper's plea hearing, which is scheduled for November 15.
Cooper is a former Crown prosecutor once thought worthy to be considered for the role of Victoria's chief magistrate.
He resigned as a magistrate when he pleaded guilty to the charges. He was suspended from the role when the charges were brought against him in January.
Cooper, who appeared in court with his wife, had his bail extended.

www.theage.com.au (3-9-2013)
Adam Cooper

Magistrate Simon Mitchell Cooper pleads guilty to sex abuse of two teenagers

Simon Mitchell Cooper, 56, pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecent assault.

A Victorian magistrate who sexually assaulted two teenage brothers is officially quitting his post at the bench after confessing to the crimes in court today, it is believed.
Simon Mitchell Cooper, 56, today pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecent assault committed against the two teens in the 1980s.
It is understood he is handing in his letter of resignation to the Governor of Victoria, Alex Chernov, this afternoon.
The former crown prosecutor, appointed as a magistrate in February 2012, was suspended in January after he was charged with sex offences against two males, to which he pleaded guilty today.
Court documents revealed Cooper once penned a love letter and left it on a teen boy's HSC homework at his family home in the mid-1980s.
The man, who cannot be identified, said in a statement the "quite engaging and posh" Cooper - then a barrister in his late 20s - left him a note hand-written note that read: "I love you with all my heart, please f--- me at your earliest convenience."
"The letter wasn't signed, but I knew the handwriting as well as my own," he said.
The man said Cooper, a former crown prosecutor, admitted to authoring the note after being confronted by the man's father.
His brother, two years his senior, said in a statement tendered to the court that he found a stack of diaries at Cooper's home written in code, which he believed referred to meetings and relationships with other males while he was at school or university.
He said Cooper would sneak into his room and touch him "almost on a daily basis".
Cooper tried to penetrate the boy on occasions, including after he plied him with alcohol until he had passed out and during a threesome with Cooper's then girlfriend, court documents state.
He said the next day Cooper would act as if nothing happened.
Both complainants described Cooper as being like part of the family and overly affectionate, often touching and grabbing them.
At times he would walk from the shower and drop his towel, exposing his genitals, or would swim naked in front of the boys, their statements said.
"He would always have an excuse like he'd forgotten his bathers or things like that," one man said.
The younger of the brothers, who was 12 when he met Cooper, said Cooper would often sleep on a trundle bed in his room and would moan and groan and mention his name while pretending to be asleep, sometimes reaching up and touching him under the doona.
He said in 1986, he pushed Cooper, who was thrusting against him, against a wardrobe and told his parents to "get that sick f--- out of the house".
The older boy said he had seen Cooper on only a few occasions - including at Cooper's 1989 wedding - since he ran from his house after he tried to have sex with him in the mid-80s.
The man said he was encouraged to contact police after a discussion with his father in mid-2011.
Cooper was charged and bailed on January 16 this year after police executed search warrants at his Brighton home and his office at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court complex.
He was stood down from the bench until the charges were resolved.
In April, Cooper's bail conditions - which prohibit him from travelling overseas - were varied so he could enjoy a mid-year jaunt to the United Kingdom with his wife and two adult children.
The recently returned Cooper told NSW magistrate Ian Guy - who was presiding over the matter to ensure impartiality - he was guilty of the offences at the beginning of his committal hearing today at Melbourne Magistrates' Court.
"Your Honour, in relation to charges two, three, five, six, seven, ten and eleven, I plead guilty," Cooper said.
Two charges of indecent assault and three charges of attempted rape were withdrawn.
His wife held his hand throughout the brief hearing.
Prosecutor James Pearce, QC, of the South Australian Director of Public Prosecutions, said Cooper will appear for a mention at the County Court on September 3 and highlighted the potential need for a judge from a different jurisdiction.
"It's not for me to weigh in to that, but it does raise the question of whether a Supreme Court judge or someone from another jurisdiction is available," Mr Pearce said.
His bail was set on the same conditions.
One victim said the guilty plea was a "great victory" as he left the court.
Cooper declined to comment.

www.heraldsun.com.au (6-8-2013)
Emily Portelli

Magistrate facing sex charges given permission to go on overseas holiday

A Victorian magistrate accused of sexually abusing two males has been granted permission to go on a two-month overseas holiday with his family before he faces the charges in court.
Simon Mitchell Cooper, 55, had his bail conditions - which prohibit him from travelling overseas - varied at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court today so he could enjoy a mid-year jaunt to the United Kingdom with his wife and two adult children.
The prosecution did not oppose the variation.
The court previously heard Mr Cooper booked and paid for flights and some accommodation for his family before he was charged earlier this year.
Mr Cooper faces 12 charges relating to two male complainants, nine of indecent assault and three of attempted rape.
The offences allegedly occurred in 1984.
Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen said Mr Cooper's passport would be returned to him so he could travel overseas from May 30 to July 23, provided he paid a $25,000 deposit to the court and his brother, David, paid a $100,000 surety.
Both amounts would be refunded if Mr Cooper surrendered his passport within seven days of his return to Australia, he said.
Earlier this month, prosecutor Deborah Mandie said the application would be strenuously opposed "given the means of Mr Cooper and his family and certain ties we're aware of to the international destination".
But the variation was not opposed this morning.
Mr Lauritsen said if the application had not been consented to, a New South Wales magistrate would have been flown in to hear the matter, rather than it being decided by a Victorian magistrate.
The charges were recently amended from six counts of attempted rape and six counts of indecent assault.
Mr Cooper will appear for a two-day committal hearing, where the evidence of his alleged victims will be tested in court, on August 6 - a fortnight after his intended return.
Mr Cooper's wife sat by his side in court this morning.
Mr Cooper was charged and bailed on January 16, the day after police executed search warrants at his Brighton home and his office at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court complex.
The charges, if proven, could have ramifications for other cases decided by Mr Cooper.
At his January filing hearing defence lawyer Paul Galbally told the court Mr Cooper was not in a fit medical state to appear.
Mr Lauritsen said in a statement in January that a magistrate had been stood down after being charged with serious crimes and would not return to the bench until the charges were resolved.
Mr Cooper was appointed a magistrate last February after serving as a crown prosecutor since 1990.
He has been a barrister since 1980.

Herald Sun (24-4-2013)
Emily Portelli

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