Originally created 01/18/06

Man pleads guilty to sex assault



AIKEN - A 63-year-old Aiken man pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexually abusing a mentally deficient teenager who was friends with his disabled daughter.

Louis John Coppola, of the 1100 block of Banksmill Road, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Judge Doyet Early said during the sentencing that if the 17-year-old victim and her family hadn't agreed to the plea deal, he probably would have rejected it.

"Your behavior exceeds all bounds of decency," he told Mr. Coppola before sentencing him to spend 60 consecutive weekends in the Aiken County Detention Center for the sexual assault conviction.

Mr. Coppola also was sentenced to five years on probation for the assault and battery charge, reduced from 10 years in prison.

As part of the plea deal, he cannot have contact with the victim or any minor girl he is not related to and must register as a sex offender.

If Mr. Coppola violates his probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years, Judge Early told him.

Assistant Solicitor Brenda Brisbin said Mr. Coppola had sex with the girl three times between Aug. 1, 2003, and April 30, 2004.

While there was no actual force, she said, there was coercion involved.

Tests show the girl has the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, Ms. Brisbin said.

The victim was friends with Mr. Coppola's daughter, now 16, who also has mental deficiencies, Ms. Brisbin told the court.

An investigation found no impropriety between Mr. Coppola and his daughter, said Andy Anderson, the father's attorney.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com