FRANKLIN, Ind. — Some Johnson County community members say they’re upset about the “free pass” Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper has received in his domestic violence case.
Cooper pleaded guilty this week to felony charges of criminal confinement, identity deception and official misconduct, as well as a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. As part of a plea deal, Cooper will perform roughly 18 months of community service, pay a small fine, and be removed from his post as a prosecutor. He’ll serve no jail time.
“I think it sends a message to men of this county and people everywhere that you can get away with it if you have the money and the power,” Patti Doan said. “We have to hold our elected officials to a higher standard, period. If they can get away with it without any sort of recumbence, then there’s a problem with the system,” Mark Powell said.
Powell said he believes the plea deal and lack of jail times results from politics.
Doug Brown, the appointed special prosecutor for the case, responded to criticism saying that the decision to agree to a plea deal wasn’t a matter of them wanting to “go soft” on Cooper.
“In this case, I try to balance my sense of justice and the victim’s sense of justice, what she wanted,” Brown said.
The victim issued this statement through the Decatur County Prosecutor's Office:
"Today, justice was served. Bradley made mistakes. He admitted to those mistakes in court and is now willing to accept responsibility. I forgive him. Afterall, he is human just like you and me. I have faith that God is working behind the scenes to turn this nightmare into something good. My prayer is that he will come out on the other side a better human being because of all of this."
Brown says his or anyone else’s feelings aside, the focus of his prosecution was solely on the victim and not Cooper’s political standing. Brown added that he understands the public reaction and feels the weight of this case and what a guilty plea from a public official means.
“It’s heartbreaking because I think when you accept that responsibility, you’re telling the community ‘I behold a duty to you,’ so it’s disappointing.”
Brown added that while Cooper has pleaded guilty, a judge hasn’t accepted the plea yet, so he technically hasn’t been convicted. For now, that means Cooper is still technically the Johnson County Prosecutor. The Johnson County prosecutor’s office has declined to comment on what that means for the cases Cooper currently oversees.
A specially appointed judge is set to review the plea agreement and sentence Cooper on July 17.