Man convicted of molesting 2 girls

LEWISTOWN – A Mifflin County jury deliberated for just 45 minutes Tuesday before convicting 49-year-old Patrick L. Cook of multiple counts pertaining to the molestation of two juvenile girls.

He was convicted of all 12 counts he faced, charges that varied from aggravated indecent assault to indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Cook chose to represent himself during the trial with attorney Matthew A. Sembach as standby council.

Cook did not comment on the verdict and Sembach said Cook plans to file an appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

“The jury took a short period of time to decide the truth and found him guilty,” Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek said after the verdict.

President Judge Timothy S. Searer ordered an evaluation by the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine if Cook qualifies as a sexually violent predator. Mifflin County Probation and Parole will also conduct a presentence investigation. Cook is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31.

During the course of the trial, Searer had to interrupt Cook on several occasions for making statements, rather than asking questions of the witnesses. Searer gave Cook some latitude during his questioning, but the defendant continued to struggle.

Sembach appeared frustrated that he was limited in his ability to assist Cook and on several occasions slipped the defendant pieces of paper with questions he felt he should be asking witnesses written on them.

At one point, Cook requested Sembach represent him again, which Searer denied.

Searer said Cook chose to represent himself some time ago and had gone through four attorneys throughout the course of his case coming to trial.

Cook had been offered a plea deal, but rejected the offer. Under that agreement, Cook would have pleaded guilty to several charges and been sentenced to 14 to 28 years in state prison. Cook could receive a lengthier sentence now that he has been convicted on all charges.

During opening statements and when he took the stand to testify, Cook basically said the same short statement “I am innocent of these charges.”

During Molek’s opening and closing statements to the jury he said the evidence in this case comes from the testimony of the now 19- and 17-year-old victims. The assaults began nearly 10 years ago.

Both victims testified Cook groped them in a sexual manner and they were afraid of him, which was one of the reasons they hadn’t immediately told their parents or reported the incidents to the police.

During Cook’s closing statements he called the victims liars and said there was no DNA evidence linking him to the assaults, as well as no eyewitnesses.

Cook also asked the jury to consider the “courage” it takes for someone to represent himself at trial.

Cook remains incarcerated at Mifflin County Correctional Facility.