INDIANAPOLIS — A married couple residing in Monroe County, Indiana couple has been sentenced in a scheme to sexually abuse five children and hiding the abuse from authorities.
The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana announced Matthew Cole, 31, was sentenced to more than 41 years in prison. His wife, Dolores Cole, 41, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
A release from the southern district attorney’s office said the investigation began in 2014 when the Coles were living in Arizona. A child protection agency received a report that one or both Coles were sexually abusing the six children that they had custody, care, or supervisory control of at the time.
Multiple allegations of abuse were made, and authorities say the Coles moved the family to various states to prevent police or child protection agencies from investigating and removing the children from their care.
The Coles’ states of residence included Arizona, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and ultimately Indiana.
In 2018, search warrants were executed at the couple’s Monroe County home.
Investigators uncovered evidence that five of the six children had been sexually abused. They also found evidence that Matthew Cole produced and distributed sexually explicit images of one of the children.
The children were also threatened by the Coles to not tell law enforcement officers about the abuse.
“The pain and damage inflicted on these children at the hands of adults they trusted is unimaginable,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “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.”
Mathew Cole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport minors across state lines with the intent to engage in a criminal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of a child, and witness tampering. He must pay restitution of $50,000 to the victims and will be supervised for the remainder of his life following release from prison.
Dolores Cole pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact to sexual exploitation of a child, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. She must pay restitution of $18,000 to the victims and will be supervised for 3 years following her prison term.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Indiana Department of Children’s Services.
All of the children were rescued as a result of the investigation.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc