Man calls Oklahoma City police, confesses to crime that occurred 25 years ago
OKLAHOMA CITY - A stunning confession decades after a crime was committed landed a man behind bars on dozens of counts of child abuse.
The call came in to the Oklahoma City Police Department on May 11 from the Classen Inn, just up the road from the county jail.
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According to court documents, 57-year-old Charles Cougle asked police to meet him there and he confessed to molesting a young girl.
That was unusual enough, but then police found out the crime had occurred 25 years ago.
"This is an extremely rare case, because number one: a person involved in it called us after a quarter of a century and number two: typically, after that much time, the statute of limitations has run," said MSgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Police were able to get around the statute of limitations, because they said Cougle left the state shortly after the crime.
"That basically froze the statute of limitations. He just now returned," Knight said.
Detectives interviewed Cougle and also contacted the alleged victim.
She confirmed everything, and Cougle was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on 50 counts of sexual abuse of a child.
The victim had never reported the abuse.
Stacy McNeiland, CEO of The CARE Center, where they do child abuse response and evaluation, said it's not uncommon for a victim to keep quiet.
"There is a stigma in the United States and in Oklahoma especially that you should be ashamed or feel bad about the abuse that's happened to you. And, in fact, it's the exact opposite," McNeiland said.
She is glad Cougle turned himself in.
"He did the right thing, and I applaud him for standing up and doing what was right," McNeiland said.
And, she said this can bring closure to the victim.
"For this victim to know that I'm believed, I am being heard. And, yes, there is justice for her," McNeiland said.
In an e-mail to NewsChannel 4, the victim said, when police called and said the name "Charles Cougle," her heart dropped.
She said she doesn't "have to worry or wonder that he's hurting others" and "the relief is overwhelming."
"This relief/closure is something I NEVER thought I would ever receive," she wrote.
The victim never reported the abuse at the time, so police said, if Cougle hadn't made that call, they would never have known a thing.
"He would've gotten away with it, at least he has for the past 25 years and probably on forever," Knight said.
The victim said she never reported the crime because she was so young and Cougle "made all the classic pedophile threats and instilled fear in everyone around him."
Police are now investigating to see if there are other victims.
Cougle is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail on $500,000 bond.