The child molestation case against a former Perry teaching assistant is heading to trial after Arnold Cowen pleaded not guilty Friday to 21 charges, including aggravated child pornography.
Friday’s plea was delayed from June, when the possession of child pornography charge against Cowen was raised to aggravated child pornography. The victims’ families say are frustrated that this case keeps dragging on.
After admitting to investigators in January that he groped young girls in the classrooms and hallways of Perry Upper Elementary School, Arnold Cowen is still a free man. In May, forensic experts showed the court hundreds of images of child porn as well as child porn videos found on Cowen’s computer, and victim attorney Cameron Spradling says its further proof that he is a danger to society. “We’ve tracked this man,” Spradling says. “He’s gone from New Jersey to Alaska in his lifetime and he didn’t just wake up one day in his mid-80s and decide to be a pedophile.”
Now Cowen faces 19 counts of lewd or indecent acts with a child under the age of 16, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He is also charged with one count of lewd or indecent proposals to a child under the age of 16, punishable by three-to-20 years behind bars. The aggravated child pornography count could mean a life sentence.
“I don’t think it means a thing,” says Spradling. “What really means something to us is to put him under oath and find out how many other victims are out there, how many victims are unreported, how many people, if you put this on national news, would recognize him and say he victimized me as a child.”
Spradling is now working with the victims’ families to file a federal lawsuit as they await trial. He says, “He has nothing to lose. He is over 86 years of age. The longer this delays the longer he has to be roaming the street and never face justice.”
Cowen’s trial is set to begin March 20, 2018.