SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — A Sandy Springs man will spend most of his 100-year sentence behind bars after authorities say he molested young girls using the guise of a babysitting job.
“We are finally putting away a man that has been preying on innocent women and children," one victim said upon learning 38-year-old Shakir Cole's conviction.
Prosecutors said Cole first popped up on law enforcement radar for an incident that happened in 2015 - then more victims stepped forward describing disturbing commonalities.
On Sept. 18 of that year, prosecutors said he called the 13-year-old daughter of his girlfriend's friend to see if she would babysit. The teen was to look after his girlfriend's kids but she later told investigators that he had other plans.
While the victim was sitting on the couch watching television, prosecutors said Cole sat down next to her and grabbed her leg. Prosecutors said that he then used her foot to touch himself inappropriately. She told investigators that she pretended to be asleep as he continued to assault her - now touching her inappropriately with his hands.
"Eventually, the 13-year-old girl left the living area, entered a guest room and cried herself to sleep," the district attorney's office said in a statement.
The next day she told her friend and mother what happened. The victim's mother took her to Sandy Springs police and the investigation began with information about the suspect released to the public.
Soon, two other cases arose. One of them involved a similar scenario where the 16-year-old victim was called in to babysit Cole's children and was molested in much the same way as the first. She also left the room but said that Cole followed her and continued the assault her until his own children woke up.
The third victim came forward after a mother who had known Cole for a decade realized what he was accused of. She then asked her 12-year-old daughter if Cole had assaulted her. The child said that he had molested her several times over the 10-year period - also using her foot to touch him inappropriately.
The 38-year-old will now spend at least 95 years of his 100-year sentence in prison after being convicted of child molestation. He would then spend the last 5 years on probation.
"We couldn’t have done it without the courage of our girls and with the help of Assistant District Attorney Shaniqua Christian and Deputy Chief Investigator Donna Kimbrell who treated our children as if they were their own," one victim said. "Above all else, we thank God for giving us the strength and protection to see justice is served for, not only our girls but any other girls that have yet to come forward.”
Judge Craig L. Schwall presided over the case.