Former Wilkes-Barre lieutenant charged with indecent assault

A long-time law enforcement officer who most recently served as security guard at Plains/Solomon Junior High School was arrested Monday on child molestation charges.

Gerald Cookus, 77, was charged with indecent assault of a child under age 13 and endangering the welfare of a child, court records show.

Luzerne County detectives accuse Cookus of inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl and say there are more victims.

Cookus was arraigned Monday evening by Magisterial District Judge John Hasay, who released Cookus on $25,000 unsecured bail.

Cookus retired from the Wilkes-Barre police department in May 1986 at the rank of lieutenant. He helped establish the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch and once served as president of the State Crime Prevention Officers Association.

Following retirement, he became director of security for Wilkes University.

Cookus was hired by the Wilkes-Barre School Board in November 2013 to as a security officer/greeter.

Investigators say Cookus was observed touching the girl in an inappropriate manner and then massaging her buttocks.

During questioning, Cookus denied sexually assaulting the girl, police said.

When asked why he massaged her buttocks, he said he thought she liked it and “he was doing her a favor,” arrest papers say.

Cookus then told investigators the allegations are “going to ruin his life and his career as a law enforcement officer,” police said in arrest papers.

Police said they asked Cookus about other possible victims.

“During the course of this investigation, investigators learned of other inappropriate behavior committed by Cookus,” investigators wrote in arrest papers. “Cookus admitted to this other inappropriate behavior.”