A 55-year-old Michigan man who previously spent several years in prison for intentionally infecting his adult sex partners with HIV was arrested again last week after he allegedly ‘groomed, raped and sexually assaulted’ an underage teenager while also infecting the young victim of the disease.
John Cole, also known as Johnny Peters, was charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of accosting a child for the purpose immoral and on one count each of knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse with the intent to infect someone with HIV, criminal sexual behavior in the third degree, criminal sexual behavior in the fourth degree and sexually abusive activity towards children , court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
According to Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson, Cole’s criminal history dates back to 1987, when he was charged and convicted of fourth-degree felony sexual conduct. In 1995, he was convicted of broadcasting and publishing, which is when a person falsifies or alters documents, such as checks, with intent to defraud a business or person.
But Cole became a real blight on the community a decade ago when young men testing positive for HIV began to surge precipitously, officials said. Swanson said the Genesee County Health Department director contacted the sheriff’s office in 2013 and asked them to look into the significant increase in the number of positive tests.
“They were able to trace the information back to Johnny Peters (Cole), who was knowingly infecting sex partners – adult partners – with HIV without telling them,” Swanson said in a Facebook Live post.
Cole was convicted of sexual penetration with an uninformed partner and spent seven years in prison, which Swanson said is rarely charged.
When Cole was released from prison in December 2022, he changed his name from Johnny Peters to John Dushan Cole, Swanson said. He also latched onto a family member of a 15-year-old boy he met at a basketball game. Swanson said Cole used a shared birth date with the child to begin grooming him for sexual assault.
In February, Cole took the victim to a basketball game and allegedly sexually assaulted him for the first time on the way to the venue. He allegedly took a detour through a parking lot and “aggressively” sexually assaulted the victim. Cole is then accused of sexually assaulting the victim again on March 1 at a local bowling alley.
Speaking generally of the child sexual predators he encountered during his career in law enforcement, Swanson said Cole was perhaps the most adept at his depravity.
“In this line that we’re going on of what predators can do, he’s one of the most vile I’ve seen because of almost four decades of doing it,” Swanson said. “His grooming tactics were some of the best I’ve seen, in the worst way.”
He then showed a video of Cole recording a podcast episode where he claims he was abused as a child and would never let such hardship happen to another child under his watch, posing, which Swanson says is another grooming tactics for predators. In the video, Cole wears a bright red “Nickelodeon” t-shirt.
“I thought to myself, personally, I would make sure a kid never went through what I went through,” Cole said.
Authorities say they have recovered evidence from Cole’s cellphone indicating that at least two other people recently had sex with Cole without knowing he was HIV-positive. It was unclear whether these victims were adults or children.
Cole was arraigned Thursday, where Genesee District Court Magistrate Kristen Grant set his bond at $425,000.
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