Lloyd Coats, 66, appeared in court Tuesday to answer to charges related to the inappropriate touching of children from 1978 to 1995. He held back tears as his family sat in the courtroom.
Prosecutors also charged Coats Tuesday with first-degree sexual assault. Erwin police said Coats would offer children candy along his postal route and then touch them inappropriately. Police say some of the incidents occurred while Coats was driving in a church van.
Five more accusers recently came forward, bringing the total number of alleged victims to 15. They also expect more to come forward.
Felicia Fisher is Lloyd Coats' cousin, and she said she is also one of his victims. She said she was 7 years old when the abuse first happened. Now, she is 23 years old.
"I just blocked it out and acted like it didn't happen," Fisher said. "I knew it felt funny and he shouldn't be doing that, but back then you didn't hear of stuff like that and you acted like it didn't happen."
Mac Hunter, Coats' attorney, said most of the cases involve indecent liberties and should not be considered serious sex offenses. They are still trying to verify if all the women who have come forward even knew Coats.
"When you put an article in the newspaper that says if you can't sleep at night, if you have nightmares and want closure, call this number, it brings a lot of people out of the woodwork," he said.
Harnett County District Attorney Tom Locke said he promises to seek justice for the alleged victims.
"We all understand he's 66 years old and any significant period of time would turn out to be a life sentence," he said.
A judge raised Coats' bond from $150,000 to $185,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 15.
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