A longtime girls basketball coach in western Massachusetts has been charged with raping one of his former players in 2002 and 2003, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
According to the Daily Gazette, Cooke's alleged victim was 17 at the time of the sexual acts, and some of the alleged rapes took place on school grounds. The former student reportedly came forward with the charges recently, and Cooke declined to be considered for a coaching position this year as a result, Hadley superintendent Nicholas Young told the Daily Gazette.
Cooke resigned on the verge of 300 career basketball victories after nearly 20 years as a coach at Hopkins. His 2009-10 squad went 16-6 and reached the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Div. 3 state tournament. Cooke had also previously coached softball at Hopkins, and his alleged victim reportedly competed for him in both sports.
For his part, Cooke's attorney insists that his client is innocent.
"He's adamant that he's innocent of the charges, and we'll litigate the matter in court," Bartmon told the Daily Gazette.
Meanwhile, others in the community are stunned by the allegations, which Young called "out of the blue." Before the recent allegations, Hopkins Academy's girls basketball program has been known for perennially competitive teams and an excellent pep band, and Young and both the principal and athletic director at Hopkins Academy betweem 2002 and 2003 said there was never any hint of inappropriate incidents when they allegedly occurred.
Cooke's wife and sister both teach in the school district, and the Hadley School Committee is already mobilizing to help navigate what is sure to be a delicate political situation.
"It's going to be a real tough issue for everyone to work through, and we want to let the process run its course," Thomas Waskiewicz, chairman of the Hadley School Committee, told the Daily Gazette. ...
"All the parties are highly regarded, so this will be a tough one. There's a lot of gossip around town, and we want to move cautiously and judiciously as the investigation takes its course and don't want to add to the rumors."
- Hopkins Academy
- Daily Hampshire Gazette