Thursday, May 26, 2011

Officer Thomas Cupples - Sentenced - Ferndale PD [retired]


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Former Ferndale police officer gets 71 months behind bars for sex assault
Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011
By ANN ZANIEWSKI
The Oakland Press
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/05/26/news/doc4dde6c0466fb0427471281.txt








An assistant prosecutor called Thomas Cupples “a man of great evil” before the former Ferndale police officer convicted of molesting a girl was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 71 months in prison.

Cupples of Oxford did not make a statement when given an opportunity to speak in the tense and crowded courtroom. Through his attorney, he has denied any wrongdoing.

Cupples was accused of sexually assaulting the girl on different occasions, starting when she was 11 years old through the age of 13. Charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, he was convicted earlier this month of two counts of the lesser offense of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

In Oakland Circuit Chief Judge Nanci Grant’s courtroom, Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick had harsh words for Cupples, noting his background in law enforcement.

“The defendant has committed the gravest of crimes, legally and morally,” Pernick said. “Behind that mask of normalcy lies a monster.”

Pernick asked the judge to depart upward from Cupples’ minimum sentencing guidelines, which ranged from 36 to 71 months behind bars.

He cited several reasons, including that the guidelines do not take into account the impact Cupples’ actions have had on the girl’s family.

Defense attorney Elias Muawad said there were no substantial or compelling reasons to depart from the guidelines. He asked the judge to take into consideration the positive aspects of Cupples’ life.

During the trial, Muawad argued that there were numerous inconsistencies in the girl’s testimony and the testimony of other prosecution witnesses.

He said that the two cookies for pornographic websites found on Cupples’ computer came from an infected disc that Cupples had downloaded after he was asked to investigate potential pornography viewing by a municipal employee.

Prosecutors said the girl’s testimony was supported by other evidence, including DNA evidence that was found linking Cupples with the scene of the alleged assaults.

The victim’s mother told the judge during the sentencing hearing that Cupples’ actions will impact her daughter for the rest of her life.

“He assaulted her mind, body, soul, without remorse,” she said.

Grant told the girl that she found her to be eloquent and intelligent.

“You are not a victim in any sense of the word,” the judge said. “You have survived something, and that just makes you a stronger person.”

Grant sentenced Cupples to 71 months to 15 years behind bars. She also ordered him to have no contact with the victim and wear a tether for the rest of his life once he’s released from prison.

The courtroom was packed with supporters of the girl and supporters of Cupples, who sat on opposite sides.

People could be seen shooting dirty looks and heard quietly making negative comments. One of Cupples’ supporters called someone white trash at the conclusion of the hearing, and deputies kept both sides separated in the hallway afterward.

Muawad said in the hallway that he would have preferred to see Cupples get a sentence that started at the low end of his sentencing guidelines, but was happy that the judge did not depart upward from them.

He said Cupples maintains his innocence and plans to appeal on evidentiary issues.

“He denies any liability in this incident,” Muawad said.

According to reports, Cupples spent years at the Ferndale Police Department before leaving in 2005. He was hired in 2007 by Orion Township to serve as a code enforcement officer.

A township official said he was terminated in September after failing to attend work or contact the township about his employment.

               









Former officer convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct
Published: Monday, May 09, 2011
By ANN ZANIEWSKI
The Oakland Press
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/05/09/news/doc4dc82028a5698268292886.txt


Thomas Couples, former Ferndale Police Officer and Orion Code Inforcement Officer, on trial for molesting a girl. His trial is in Judge Nanci Grant's courtroom.

Supporters of Thomas Cupples broke into tears Monday when the former police officer accused of molesting a girl was found guilty of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

While some people welcomed the verdict, Cupples’ defense attorney said there were multiple inconsistencies in the girl’s testimony and no evidence that his client had done anything improper.

“We were pretty disappointed with the verdict because of all of the inconsistencies and lies that we believe that the victim told,” attorney Elias Muawad said. “The verdict should have been not guilty on all counts.”

Cupples, of Oxford, was accused of sexually assaulting the girl on different occasions when she was 11 through 13 years old. He was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and the jury decided to convict him of two counts of the lesser offense of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Oakland Circuit Judge Shalina Kumar, who took the verdict in the absence of presiding judge Nanci Grant, revoked Cupples’ bond. During the hearing, Cupples was seen turning around from his seat at the defense table and mouthing words to his family members. Later, he said, “I love you, too,” as he was being led out of the courtroom by deputies.

In her closing argument Friday, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Tricia Dare told jurors that the testimony of the girl, who is now 14, was supported by other evidence.

Dare said DNA evidence was found linking Cupples with the scene of the alleged assaults and that a computer taken from his home had images of the girl and evidence showing that two sexual assault websites had been accessed.

Muawad questioned the credibility of the girl and other witnesses. He said the images on the computer showed nothing inappropriate. He also said that the two cookies for pornographic websites found on Cupples’ computer came from an infected disc that Cupples had downloaded after he was asked to investigate potential pornography viewing by a municipal employee.

In her closing argument Friday, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Tricia Dare told jurors that the testimony of the girl, who is now 14, was supported by other evidence.

Dare said DNA evidence was found linking Cupples with the scene of the alleged assaults and that a computer taken from his home had images of the girl and evidence showing that two sexual assault websites had been accessed.

Muawad questioned the credibility of the girl and other witnesses. He said the images on the computer showed nothing inappropriate. He also said that the two cookies for pornographic websites found on Cupples’ computer came from an infected disc that Cupples had downloaded after he was asked to investigate potential pornography viewing by a municipal employee.

“Tom never downloaded anything improper,” Muawad told jurors at the beginning of the trial.

Will Amstutz, who is engaged to Cupples’ sister and watched the trial, said it was noteworthy to him that the girl said nothing bad had happened to her before the date in August 2010 that the allegations were disclosed.

“I know he’s innocent,” Amstutz, a resident of Beulah, said.

The courtroom was often tense during the trial, with supporters of Cupples and people who believed he was guilty filling benches on opposite sides of the courtroom.

“At least he’ll go away for a while. It makes me happy,” said one man after the jury’s verdict was announced.

Mark Shelton, an uncle of the victim, said he had been looking for a conviction of the more serious charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct but was still pleased with the outcome. First-degree criminal sexual conduct differs from second-degree criminal sexual conduct in that first-degree involves penetration and could bring up to life in prison.

“We believe that he did the crime, that he sexually abused this girl,” Shelton, of Clarkston, said.

According to reports, Cupples left the Ferndale Police Department in 2005 and was hired in 2007 by Orion Township to serve as a code enforcement officer. A township official said he was terminated in September after failing to attend work or contact the township about his employment; Cupples’ supporters said he was in jail for more than a month at that time.





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