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SW Virginia woman enters plea without admitting guilt on sex charges

Kingsport Times-News • Jun 27, 2017 at 10:58 AM

WISE, Va. — The 60-year-old widow of a deceased Norton police officer entered an Alford plea in Wise County Circuit Court on Monday on nearly three decades-old sex charges involving minors.

Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said Rhonda Jean Cooke presented the Alford plea before the court on Monday to four counts of indecent liberties with a child by someone in a supervisory role. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt but has the same effect as a guilty plea, an acknowledgement by a defendant the evidence against him or her is likely to result in a guilty verdict should a case go to trial.

Slemp said the charges trace back to the 1990s involving two victims who were minors at the time. The maximum punishment on all four charges is 20 years, Slemp said, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 5.

"It is extremely difficult to prosecute a case of this nature. That difficulty is compounded when the offenses are nearly 25 years old," Slemp said. "Despite these challenges, we are pleased with the outcome today." More about Cooke’s plea from the Kingsport Times-News.

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