Ice Cream Shop Owner Gets 20 Days In Sex Case

Jacksonville, NC - An Onslow County ice cream shop owner has pleaded guilty in a sexual assault case, just a week after backing out of a plea agreement to avoid a trial. He will serve just 20 days in jail.

Ernest Van Cooney plead guilty to four counts of assault on a female, three counts of sexual battery and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.

Many of the victims were teenage employees of his business in Richlands. One mother told the judge "This thing sitting here is a monster and a sexual predator, he needs counseling I pray he doesn't molest his grandchildren."

Last summer one of the victims told WITN News that Van Cooney "unsnapped her bra strap, kissed her face and bit her neck, holding a knife to her throat."

Van Cooney, who is married with five children, originally faced felony sexual assault charges. But prosecutors dropped those felony counts as part of the plea deal.

His lawyer questioned if the work environment for the girls was so hostile and unbearable, why didn't they just quit. One victim told the court "Ernie's own son said: My father is a pervert, what can I do to help." She added, "Today I'll forget you, but you'll remember me for the rest of your life."

Van Cooney was given 20 days in jail, plus 3 years of supervised probation. He must also pay for the girls counseling and not have any contact with the victims in any way.

The judge also ordered that Van Cooney cannot socialize with under 18, can't purchase or possess alcohol and will be on the sex offender registry for the next 30 years.

Stay with WITN News and for more on this developing story.

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  • by why Location: around the corner on Apr 23, 2009 at 11:11 PM
    Why is he not on the list . It says he would be on the list for 30 years what's up why so slow.It has been almost three weeks
  • by ashame Location: jacksonville on Apr 22, 2009 at 10:56 PM
    This man is out tommorow . Watch out
  • by Pondering Location: Around the corner on Apr 7, 2009 at 06:24 AM
    I am wondering if the same people who are critizing the sentence are the same ones who criticized these girls orginally. I am more involved with this case than most of you who are writing these comments and can tell you that though the sentence may have been extremely light, it is the laws that protect perverts like him and not the Judges and DAs. To What Ever: It IS over for (most of) the girls who came forward. If there are other girls (which I know there are), they are capable of doing what the orginal girls did. It is a shame that you are saying it would take a "win" for them to come forward though. Wrong is wrong whether a win was involved or not. These girls took the first step, now it is up to them to either follow or walk away.
  • by What Ever Location: J ville on Apr 7, 2009 at 02:17 AM
    To Distured: Sounds like you picked the perfect name. So you are saying this is over . What if I am a girl that never had the strength to tell till I saw these girls win this case? I am not saying I am I am saying what if? Thank you for telling me it is over . It may be over for these girls . You can not say it is over there is tons more that can be done if others will come out .He does have a record now so at least next time people will believe . He has offended kids and adults and he is getting his now . Shame on you ! You know there is no way this sentence is Justice.
  • by crazy Location: jax on Apr 6, 2009 at 08:42 PM
    Well I hope he has a extra special Easter . Bread and water .
  • by John Location: Richlands on Apr 6, 2009 at 11:53 AM
    I spoke with him some time ago about when he was in the service. Yes he had charges brought up on him then at least once that he spoke of but it was because he was a SNCO and the person was a female of less rank. So would it have any kind of bearing on this chances are NO. It could only show as what kind of a person he was or IS. We all pretty much know that now. He lost a really good place to have a buisness, but since that is what he was doing in there then I don't want to have any thing to do with it.
  • by Disturbed on Apr 6, 2009 at 09:57 AM
    The judge had nothing to do with it. Judges only accept the already drawn up plea agreement. As for the district attorney, he did all he could. Other D.A.'s passed the case along not wanting to handle it. Several of the girls wanted to plea as well. So Mike Maltsby did his job. Quit crucifying Maltsby. Van Cooney is the only person that should be crucified in this situation.
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Apr 6, 2009 at 06:55 AM
    Remember your Judges and District Attorney Onslow County. You have the power to vote them out of office. Change you can believe in is not Cabinet members who don't pay taxes, politicians who break campaign promises and Judges who let perverts walk free.
  • by bill Location: williamston on Apr 6, 2009 at 06:18 AM
    This man tried to satify himself so why don't the childern sue him for violation of their civil rights. They will have the last laugh. Bet his lawyer didn't have a teenage girl working for this man. Wonder if he would have told her "Stop putting up with the sexual harresment and quit" How can this lawyer and judge sleep at night.
  • by ace Location: plymouth on Apr 6, 2009 at 06:12 AM
    Just remember the the District Attorney and Judges name when election time comes. Get them out of office before something like this happens again.

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