Graniteville sex offender found dead in prison

A convicted sex offender from Graniteville was found dead outside his cell in McCormick Correctional Institution on Saturday.

South Carolina Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsom said Monday evening that Ricky Cooper, 49, who was serving a 20-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, was found dead by corrections officers at 11:35 a.m.

His body was in a common area outside his cell by the showers.

Newsom said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has taken over the case, and details are limited.

Cooper was charged in June 2007 with eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a minor. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to court records.

The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said when it filed the charges that a boy and a girl were assaulted at an Aiken home between February 1996 and February 2004.

McCormick Correctional Institution is a level 3 all-male prison.

Level 3 prisons are high-security institutions designed primarily to house violent offenders with longer sentences and inmates who exhibit behavioral problems, according to the Department of Corrections Web site. Housing consists of single and double cells, and all perimeters are double-fenced with extensive electronic surveillance. Inmates at level 3 facilities are closely supervised, and their activities and movement within the institution are highly restricted, the Web site says.

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