PERRY, Okla. (AP) — A former teaching assistant who pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls at an Oklahoma elementary school was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Arnold Cowen, 86, pleaded guilty Thursday to 21 felony counts in a deal with prosecutors, The Oklahoman reported. Under the agreement, Cowen will serve at least 8 ½ years in prison with 10 years’ probation. He would have to register as a sex offender once released.
“No amount of punishment would be enough to come close to being appropriate,” said Noble County District Attorney Brian Hermanson. “We were mindful of the additional pain these families would suffer if they were forced to go to trial and be required to testify about what the defendant had done to them.”
Cowen was charged last year with inappropriately touching 10 girls ages 10 to 13 at Upper Elementary School in Perry. He also was accused of having more than 100 pornographic images and videos on his home computer.
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“We were also aware that the defendant would turn 87 years old next week and with these crimes being such that he would have to serve 85 percent of the time assessed, we knew any sentence would be a life sentence,” said Hermanson. “In talking to the families, they understood and did not object to this sentence.”
Cowen and his attorney declined to comment to the newspaper after being sentenced.
Former Principal Kenda Miller and former math teacher Jeffrey Sullins face misdemeanors accusing them of failing to promptly report accusations against Cowen.