Former Bridgeport minister sentenced to 30 years for sex assaults

BRIDGEPORT — The former minister of a local church was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison for repeatedly raping a girl from age 6 until she was a teenager.

“You took something from me I can never get back: my innocence,” the woman, now in her 20s, told Orane Cole as she faced him in court.

“You took me under your wing, not to protect me, but to hurt me over and over again. Mr. Cole, you hurt me so bad,” she added, her voice quivering with emotion.

The 45-year-old Cole showed no reaction to the victim’s words and instead, continued to maintain his innocence.

“I’m here to fight for my life,” Cole told Superior Court Judge Eugene Calistro. “I never sexually assaulted her. I’m hurt, disappointed in the (victim).”

But the judge retorted that Cole had admitted to police he had sexually assaulted the victim three to four times a month and that sexually abusing her was a way of showing her love.

“Just prior to committing the sexual assaults, you told the victim you needed her help. A minister stands in a position of trust,” the judge said.

In March, a six-member jury deliberated only a few hours before finding Cole guilty of three counts of first-degree sexual assault.

According to Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Ann Lawlor, the victim testified during the week-long trial that Cole began sexually assaulting her when she was a kindergartner and the assaults continued until 2017.

“He has shown no remorse and is a threat to the community,” Lawlor told the judge.

But Cole’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Bradford Buchta, pointed out that his client has no prior criminal record and he asked for leniency. Buchta said Cole, a Jamaican citizen, will probably get deported.

The judge sentenced Cole to 60 years, suspended after he serves 30 years in prison and followed by 30 years of probation. He also ordered Cole to register for life as a sex offender.