New details on man accused of grooming, raping girls in Boston

John Jamar Cokley recorded videos of the sexual abuse of the children, according to Suffolk County prosecutors, who say he exploited five girls, raping two of them


Editor's note: The details in this story may be disturbing.

A man suspected of grooming several underage girls for sex in Boston was initially caught with his belt buckle undone next to a 16-year-old girl in his car at a Dunkin' parking lot, prosecutors said Tuesday, as they shared new details about the investigation that's led to a 30-count grand jury indictment, including forcible rape of a child.



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John Jamar Cokley told police, who'd been following him after seeing the child sneak out a window at her home, that "he met the victim through Uber Eats and was encouraging her, quote unquote, to stay in school," said Assistant District Attorney Ashley Polin at a dangerousness hearing for the man at Suffolk County Superior Court.

But the girl gave a different story, saying that she'd had sex with Cokley, 38, in exchange for $60 at least three times, said Polin, who leads the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Unit at the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

Police were following Cokley based on a tip from a local high school that the girl was being exploited, Polin said, and investigators saw an Instagram message purportedly from him requesting sexually explicit images and video "so that he could see what he was working with." After his arrest, investigators reviewed digital evidence — he allegedly recorded videos of the sexual abuse of the children, and determined he exploited five girls, raping two of them.

"The defendant … preyed on these teenage girls, used their vulnerabilities, financial insecurity and emotional immaturity in order to really groom them," Polin told the judge, arguing that he be held in jail before his trial.

The most serious charge Cokley faces is rape of a child by force, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison, Polin said, calling the alleged crime "violent, predatory and dehumanizing" and describing him, in Instagram messages, mocking her and pretending not to know the meaning of the word "stop."

Polin said he used money and emotional abuse masquerading as mentorship to lure the girls in and sexually assault them.

Cokley was permitted to not show his face in court at the hearing. He's a father of two whom prosecutors say used to work for Brighton High School and a Boston nonprofit that helps at-risk teens.

Cokley's attorney, Bill Sprouse, argued that Cokley maintains his innocence in the face of the "very serious allegations" and has already posted $25,000 bail previously issued in Dorchester District Court. Sprouse said that standard bail conditions, like GPS monitoring and an order to stay away from the victims, would be adequate for Cokley.

Judge Mark Hallal asked about what might keep Cokley off the internet and social media, where he allegedly did much of the grooming and which Polin asked him to factor into his ruling. Hallal ultimately took the matter under advisement without making a ruling on the motion to hold Cokley as a danger, setting a July 9 status hearing.

Suffolk County District Attorney Michael Hayden has previously asked anyone whom Cokley may have assaulted to call the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit at 617-343-6533.

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