WHEELING - Former Wheeling police officer Matthew Kotson testified that he was looking to have sex with one of his alleged victims when he arrived at the woman's home Thanksgiving Day last year, but said he stopped his advances when she said "no."
The second day of Kotson's trial on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse ended Tuesday without a verdict. Jurors will resume deliberation at 9 a.m. today in Ohio County Circuit Court.
During about 40 minutes of testimony, Kotson denied sexually abusing his accuser on her couch and in her bathroom at her home on Nov. 24. He said their relationship had ceased before he showed up at her home that day, but admitted he was there to take her up on her offer of unattached sex.
"I was going to go in and see how she was," Kotson said. "And since we had just talked the day before, I was going to see if she still wanted to keep the sexual part with no strings attached."
Kotson said he immediately stopped after the woman denied both of his sexual advances. He testified the woman never explicitly said she did not want to have sex with him, but only that she "did not have time." She never asked him to leave her home, he added, and he exited on his own after she kissed him.
Kotson's sister-in-law testified she was best friends with the another one of Kotson's accusers, who on Monday said the former police officer raped her three times. She said the alleged victim even called her after one of the incidents.
"She said that she didn't want to have sex with him, but she did because she was scared that he would get mad at her," Kotson's sister-in-law recalled of the conversation with the alleged victim.
She explained she did not report the incident to law enforcement because she did not believe a crime had been committed. She went on to say that because the alleged victim was her best friend and Kotson was her brother-in-law, she wanted to stay uninvolved. Their friendship has since ended because of the allegations, she noted.
During his closing argument, Special Prosecutor David Cross questioned why Kotson would follow his accuser into the bathroom after she previously expressed her disinterest.
"He knew the answer was 'no,' but he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, because he was there for sex. 'No' means 'no,' not 'you can keep doing what you want to do.' It means 'no,'" Cross said.
He also pointed out the alleged victim suffered bruising on her hips, the same place where Kotson admitted to placing his hands while with the woman in her bathroom.
Defense attorney Robert McCoid, during his lengthy close, attempted to discredit the testimony of Kotson's accuser, saying she exaggerated the details of Nov. 24 in an attempt to substantiate false allegations against Kotson. He also pointed to the similarities among the former police officer's three accusers.
"These accusers are all ex-girlfriends," McCoid told the jury. "They all have an ax to grind against him. They all have some motivation with which they are vested to come in here and unload on him."
During McCoid's closing argument, a relative of one of Kotson's alleged victims yelled from the courtroom audience at the attorney, "I'd watch your mouth."
After dismissing the jury for deliberation, Senior Status Judge Arthur Recht called that man into his chambers and vehemently reprimanded him before banning him from the courtroom for the remainder of the trial.
"You are in a court of law, and you will shut up," Recht said. "If you say another word, if you threaten anybody, you're going right down to the Northern Regional Jail for six months. Do you understand? Are you sure you understand? Because I promise you I will do it."
Recht gave the jurors instructions and they began deliberating at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. About two hours later, they asked to listen to Kotson's recorded interview with law enforcement, which is about 90 minutes long. Recht offered the jury a trio of options, and the 12 individuals opted to adjourn for the evening and resume deliberation this morning.