The co-owner of a Surrey bowling establishment has been charged with seven sex-related offences involving minors.
Thomas Charles Cooper, 43, faces two counts each of sexual exploitation, exposing genitals to a person under 16, communicate via computer to lure a child under 16 and one count of sexual interference of a person under 16
The alleged offences took place between June 2012 and March 2013.
Surrey RCMP confirmed the charges Monday, saying they were laid last May after a two-month investigation.
Cooper is owner of Dell Lanes and Sports Lounge. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Cooper told The Leader Monday the charges levied against him are patently false.
“Oh yeah, we’ve got a good lawyer and we’re going to be fighting it and we’ll prove it in court,” Cooper said. “That’s all we can do.”
He said it’s unfortunate that even unproven allegations might damage the business he’s owned for 11 years.
“They’re charges, they’re not convictions,” Cooper said. “It’s a shame, because it could hurt a lot of people working and a lot of the employees we have here could lose their jobs (if the business takes a downturn because of it).”
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said police did not warn the public about Cooper because investigators saw little likelihood of other victims.
And though conditions were put on Cooper that he not be anywhere that anyone under age 18 may be expected to be, the conditions do not apply to his workplace.
“Mr. Cooper has been charged, not convicted, so based on that, we can’t take his livelihood away from him,” said Paquet. “However, strict conditions were set to ensure the safety of everybody attending his place of employment, which is a public place.”
Paquet said he is also being closely monitored by police.
Cooper’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 11 and his trial is slated to begin April 14.
– with files from Kevin Diakiw