Monroe Co. couple sentenced to federal prison for child sexual exploitation

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A Monroe County husband and wife have each been sentenced to federal prison following their convictions for sexual exploitation of five children in their care.

Matthew Cole, 31, was sentenced to 41 years while his wife, Dolores Cole, 41, was sentenced to 15 years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana announced Tuesday.

Matthew Cole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport minors across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of a child and witness tampering. Dolores pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to sexual exploitation of a child, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Coles had custody, care or supervisory control over six children while living in Arizona in 2014. But once a child protection agency started receiving reports of sexual abuse, the couple moved with the children to other states including Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Indiana to avoid their removal.

Search warrants were executed at their Indiana home in 2018, and it was discovered that five of the six kids had been sexually abused. Matthew had been producing and distributing sexually explicit images of one of the children, and both adults had threatened the children and told them not to tell law enforcement what was happening.

“The pain and damage inflicted on these children at the hands of adults they trusted is unimaginable,” new U.S. Attorney Zachary Myers said in a news release. “No sentence of imprisonment will undo what these victims have suffered, but the serious consequences imposed for these heinous offenses demonstrate that those who sexually exploit vulnerable children will be held accountable for their reprehensible actions.”

Matthew must pay $50,000 in restitution to the victims and will be supervised for the remainder of his life upon his release from prison. Dolores must pay $18,000 in restitution and will be supervised for three years upon release.

The case against the Coles was investigated by the FBI, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana Department of Child Services. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bradley P. Shepard and Kristina M. Korobov prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative.

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