More competency tests ordered for elderly man accused of sexually abusing two girls

Booking photo for Rex E. Cook (Courtesy: Cache County Jail)

LOGAN — A judge has ordered further mental evaluations for an 88-year-old Logan man suspected of sexually abusing two girls more than 16 years ago. The ruling came as a social worker described how Rex E. Cook suffers with dementia and can’t remember the incidents.

Cook participated in a virtual hearing in 1st District Court Thursday afternoon, appearing by web conference. He was previously charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.

Social worker Rhett Potter told the court how he evaluated Cook and determined the Logan man shows symptoms of encroaching dementia. He predicted the memory loss will get worse as the suspect gets older.

As part of the evaluation, Potter had asked about the sexual abuse of the girls that reportedly occurred between 2000 and 2004. Cook had acknowledged to possibly exposing himself when getting out of the shower but couldn’t remember ever assaulting the alleged victims.

Potter said Cook also has a limited vocabulary and IQ, making it hard to understand the court process. He recommended the suspect be tested by a neuropsychologist.

Cache County Deputy Attorney Dane Murray agreed with Potter that more testing should be done to determine whether Cook is competent to stand trial. He said they owed it to the victims.
Defense attorney Roy Cole disagreed and said more testing would be a waste of money. He told the court his client’s dementia is quickly getting worse.

Judge Brian Cannell agreed with Potter and Murray. He said that the court wanted as much information as possible before determining Cook’s competency. He ordered the suspect to undergo further evaluations and appear again in court Dec. 14.

Cook was booked into the Cache County Jail briefly in December 2019, following an investigation by Logan City police officers. Both alleged victims were acquaintances of the suspect.

Cook did not speak during Thursday’s hearing. He is currently out of jail on pretrial supervision and prohibited from having any contact with the alleged victims. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.

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