Local News

Spring Lake man accused of sexually assaulting a child

Posted August 27, 2014
Updated August 28, 2014

— Investigators in Spring Lake are searching for a registered sex offender who allegedly posed as a police officer, then sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl.

Authorities said Nathan Lynn Cooley, 28, of 1317 Verlie Drive, approached the child Tuesday afternoon on Odell Road. Cooley was in a vehicle and the girl was walking to a library from school, police said.

"Cooley told the victim he was a police officer and needed her help finding his dog," police said in a statement.

After luring the girl into his vehicle, Cooley drove to a wooded area and sexually assaulted the child, police said. After the child started crying and asking for her mother, Cooley dropped her off at the public library on Laketree Boulevard, police said.

The girl went home and told her mother, who contacted authorities.

The child was able to provide police with a detailed description of Cooley because she had seen him before, Spring Lake Police Chief Troy A. McDuffie said.

"Emotionally, certainly she's not doing too well, but physically, she's OK," McDuffie said.

The crime surprised neighbors like Nancy Serra, who lives across the street from the library.

"I see little girls walking all the time to the library, and it worries me to death to know that something like that would happen right across the street from my neighbors, my home, my grandkids, my kids," she said.

Cooley was convicted of attempted rape of a 13-year-old in Currituck County in 2005, and served three years in prison and received two years' probation. In 2011, hewas convicted of indecent liberties with a 15-year-old in Dare County and received five years' probation.

Cooley is listed as a recidivist on the state's sex offender registry.

He is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs about 260 pounds with blue eyes and a bald head. He was last seen operating a beige or gold Mitsubishi Galant with a Virginia license plate.

Anyone with information regarding Cooley’s whereabouts is asked to contact Spring Lake police at 910-436-0350 or CrimeStoppers at 910-483-TIPS.

"With the start of the new school year, Chief McDuffie also wishes to caution all parents to speak with their children about not talking to or getting into vehicles with strangers," the police department said in a statement.


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  • 678devilish Aug 29, 2014

    Parents please teach your young impressionable daughter to never get into a car when they do not know the person. Even if its a police officer and no uniform on, its a NO. She is 11 years old and old enough to understand if you the parent would take the time to teach. Younger than that can also learn. No excuses. The predators are always lurking around. Make it safe for your children. Thanks.

  • Tim Kelly Aug 28, 2014
    user avatar

    This is an interesting development-


  • Naysayer Aug 28, 2014

    That guy looks really creepy. I hope they catch him soon and lock him up for a long long long time.

  • bigsky59 Aug 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It would be a good idea to report the name of the responsible judge every time a sentence is mentioned in an article -- lenient or tough !

  • Barbara Hatcher Aug 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Certainly you are not suggesting that all white people are like this person?? And you are not suggesting that because of slavery, which happened generations ago and does not affect anyone alive today in the context you mean, that predisposes a white person for behaving like a foul, sick, demented animal? I hope that is now what you intended to express!

  • nashville Aug 28, 2014

    Everybody be on the lookout for this creep. He's probably already looking for his next victim! Wish they could provide the license plate # for his vehicle.

  • MudLife Aug 28, 2014

    Sex offfenders need to be locked up for life the first time they molest a child. How many stories have we seen where their released and continue to molest children time and time again? Judges and DA's need to be harsher on them and lock them away so they can NEVER hurt another child again!!

  • EricaSliver Aug 28, 2014

    Wow! As a mother, this made my blood boil!He needs to be locked up for life...poor little girl. Her innocence is shattered.

  • Marciana Paul Aug 28, 2014
    user avatar

    I hope they find him decesed by self inflicted wounds!!!

  • Confucius say Aug 28, 2014

    "Cooley was convicted of attempted rape of a 13-year-old in Currituck County in 2005, serving three years in prison and receiving two years probation. In 2011, Cooley was convicted of indecent liberties with a 15-year-old in Dare County and received five years probation."

    Go ahead and let him out again to continue to prey on innocent children. Our legal system is a joke.