Sex assault suspect could change plea

Rutland Herald, Vermont/February 11, 2010

White River Junction - A Missouri man might plead guilty today to charges he sexually assaulted a woman and her underage sister.

On Tuesday afternoon, Paul J. Cool, 49, of Amity, Mo., appeared in White River Junction District Court for a motion to amend his conditions of release. Cool pleaded innocent on Dec. 1 to three felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct for allegedly repeatedly assaulting a woman from 2006 to 2007 in Royalton. The woman, who was 18 years old when the alleged assaults began, told police Cool was a priest in a splinter sect of the Mormon Church and told her God had instructed him to prepare her for marriage.

Cool is also facing a felony charge of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child in Middlebury District Court for allegedly assaulting the sister of the alleged Royalton victim. According to affidavits, the assaults took place in Cornwall from 2006 until 2007 and began when the younger girl was 10 years old.

Cool is free on $25,000 bail on conditions he not leave Vermont or have contact with any females younger than 18 years old. Sometime after his arraignment, according to statements made in court by his wife and his attorney, Cool returned to Missouri. On Dec. 18, Cool returned to White River Junction District Court for a hearing to amend his conditions of release to allow him to return to Missouri, and to have contact with his 13-year-old stepdaughter and his own infant daughter, who had been born three days earlier.

Hartford police officers arrested Cool as he entered court carrying his daughter and charged him with violating his conditions of release that prohibit any contact with minor females. Judge Theresa S. DiMauro denied Cool's motion, and days later Cool denied violating his conditions of release and was freed on an additional $5,000 bail.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cool was again in court to amend his conditions of release, again asking to return to Missouri and to have supervised contact with his stepdaughter and unsupervised contact with his newborn daughter. Instead of discussing the motion, Cool's attorney Elizabeth Hibbits and Windsor County Deputy State's Attorney Martha Neary conferred for nearly an hour behind closed doors before returning to court to tell DiMauro they had reached a possible resolution for the charges in both Addison and Windsor counties.

Cool is scheduled to appear at 3:30 p.m. today for a motion to amend his conditions of release, but that motion won't be discussed if Cool instead offers a change of plea, Neary said. Following the hearing, Neary would not say what charges Cool might plead to.

Cool was present, but did not speak during the proceeding.

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