PAOLI – – On March 31, 2021, the Orange County Circuit Court, defendant Joseph D. Cole, 35, Orleans, was sentenced to 100 years in prison after being found guilty on two (2) counts of child molesting as Level 1 Felonies and two (2) counts of child molesting as Level 4 Felonies.
The trial concluded on March 3rd and was the first in Orange County since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the court system.
Cole was sentenced to 50 years for Count 3, Child Molesting as a Level 1 Felony, and an additional 50 years on Count 4, Child Molesting as a Level 1 Felony
“Mr. Cole committed terrible and irreversible acts on these children. We sought and obtained the maximum sentence in this case due to the severity of these horrendous crimes and their long-term impact on the victims. I, again, want to thank my law enforcement partners for their excellent work and our local Department of Child Services. I hope this strong sentence and conclusion will bring the victims and their families some peace,” said Orange County Prosecutor Holly Hudelson.
The investigation began on September 1, 2019, when Detective David Henderson from the Indiana State Police Post in Jasper was dispatched to East State Road 56 in Paoli regarding a possible child molest.
Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department were already on site. When Detective Henderson arrived, two females were also present and identified themselves as mothers of the alleged victims.
Both women stated they were at different times either involved with or married to Joseph Cole, and both had children with Cole.
The women reported they had let their children stay overnight with Cole at his residence in Orleans and that the following morning they received a call from Joseph’s mother asking them to pick up the children due to an incident that had occurred.
According to the probable cause affidavit, three children spent the night with Cole, and the allegations made included inappropriate touching in a sexual manner.
The victims, including children ages 7 and 5, were referred to Kosair Children’s hospital for examination and to the South West Indiana Child Advocacy Center (SWICAC) for forensic interviews
On September 3rd, 2019, all three children were interviewed at SWICAC in Jasper, and each described graphic and inappropriate sexual acts by Joseph Cole.
Cole was advised of his rights and interviewed by Detective Henderson and Family Case Manager Rebecca Nale from the Department of Child Services. Cole initially told investigators he had been told something bad happened the night the children stayed with him but reported he did not remember anything due to drinking that night.
Cole eventually recalled some details and admitted to inappropriately exposing himself and touching the girls.
Cole was arrested on September 5th, 2019, and charged with two (2) counts of Child Molesting as Level 1 Felonies and two (2) counts of Child Molesting as Level 4 felonies.
He was transported to the Orange County Jail where he remained pending his trial.
Cole’s sentences will run consecutively, for a total of 100 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.
He was also determined to be a credit-restricted felon, which means he will be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence and be listed a sexually violent predator.