Friday, December 8, 2023

Court docs: Man accused of sex trafficking carries history of gang involvement, family abuse

Evan Anthony Cole, 29 (WYDaily/Courtesy of VPRJ)
Evan Anthony Cole, 29 (WYDaily/Courtesy of VPRJ)

Two women who police believe were victims of sex trafficking said they were bound and gagged in a York Street hotel room before their alleged captor, a 29-year-old man, left the hotel, according to court documents.

Evan Anthony Cole is accused of beating and choking two women July 5 before at the Best Western, 351 York St.

Court documents filed in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court allege Cole had posted ads online “soliciting sex acts” for both women to gain money for hotel rooms and goods. 

Williamsburg Police responded to an assault complaint at the Best Western and made contact with two women. 

One of the women was bruised and bleeding on her face and body, while the other woman had “significant bruising” on her face and extremities, documents say.

One woman also said Cole tied fabric around her neck and choked her using his hands until she couldn’t breathe. She also claimed he had beaten her to the point she fell unconscious.

The women told police Cole then took their cellphones and “an amount of money” before leaving the hotel.

Cole was later located by authorities at the Travelodge Inn & Suites July 11, where maintenance workers found him hiding in an unoccupied room, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.

Travelodge was on lockdown for about three hours while authorities worked to take him into custody. He is charged with two felony counts of sex trafficking, two felony counts of abduction, two felony counts of robbery, one felony count of strangulation, and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery in connection with that incident. 

Court documents show a pattern of abuse and violence: In 2013, Cole pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife. A strangulation charge was dropped as part of a plea deal.

The couple divorced in 2014, less than two years after they were married.

An April 2017 “major violation report” for Cole produced by the Virginia Department of Corrections says Cole was accused of assault and battery of a family member third offense in February 2017. 

Cole was arrested in February 2017 for allegedly choking and assaulting a woman he knew while walking on Centerville Road. She was taken to the hospital for her injuries.

In addition to assault charges involving family members, Cole has a history of gang involvement, according to court documents.

In September 2016, Cole pleaded guilty to forcing a person to remain in a gang. Court documents say he and other inmates assaulted a fellow inmate — they were trying to recruit that inmate into the 59 Brim Bloods gang in C pod at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

The major violation report indicated Cole continued to be involved in gang activity while in jail in 2017 on the assault and battery of a family member charge.

He was observed associating and discussing gang information with other known gang members, including one who was a codefendant in the jail beating case. Cole had previously been ordered not to have any contact with other gang members, according to court papers.

In the current case relating to sex trafficking, Cole was arraigned Monday morning. He is set to appear in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court July 23 at 8:30 a.m. to confirm his defense attorney. 

In York County, Cole is scheduled to appear for an attorney review July 24 at 8:30 a.m. via video conference on charges related to the the Travelodge incident.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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