Many in the Miami community believed that Ron Cooper was an upstanding citizen who volunteered as a youth pastor. However, Cooper allegedly fooled the public and used his power to manipulate young boys.
According to CBS Miami, Cooper, 52, was able to meet teenage boys while serving as a youth pastor and lured them into the world of prostitution. Cooper would tell the boys that he could make them stars by promising them opportunities to become models. He initially told the boys they were going to visit a photographer, but they were actually meeting other men who would pay to have sex with them.
The boys were threatened and given Viagra, Xanax and alcohol before being forced to have sex. Cooper eventually began placing ads on Backpage and Craigslist to find more customers for the boys. He would make to boys prostitute themselves at cheap hotels and an adult bookstore.
In turn, the boys would only receive $40 to $100 for each sex act and Cooper would often take half of their money. The victims said that they were afraid of Cooper because he threatened to kill them and often used physical intimidation. He also threatened to harm their families and blackmail them with nude photos. Cooper also raped and sexually assaulted the boys. The only way the boys could escape from having sex with other men was to steal high-priced items for Cooper.
Although Cooper did not have any prior arrests, he should have faced more rigorous screening before being allowed to become a youth pastor. Some church organizations and other religious institutions have become unholy places where kids are abused by adults who have gained respect from the members. In extreme cases, members have reacted with a blind-eye by allowing the abuse to continue without holding church leaders accountable.
Cooper faced charges of trafficking teenagers. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Written by: A.R. Shaw
Child sex trafficking is an underground economy that thrives here, and everywhere.
Read: “The Stolen Ones“ a Heald-Tribune Special Report