WHEELING - West Virginia State Police arrested Wheeling Police Officer Matthew Kotson Thursday on sexual assault charges after he was allegedly seen peering in the window of a local Catholic grade school where one of the alleged witnesses in the case is employed.
State Police Sgt. Scott Adams said troopers arrested the 31-year-old Kotson, who has served with the city's police department for eight years, near St. Vincent de Paul Parish School in Elm Grove at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Authorities responded to the scene upon receiving word that Kotson allegedly was peering through a window at the school.
MATTHEW KOTSON: On leave from department
"One of the witnesses in the case is a school teacher. The officer was caught looking in the window at the school," Adams said.
One of Kotson's alleged victims arrived at the West Virginia State Police Wheeling detachment Thanksgiving Day, claiming she was sexually assaulted by the officer earlier that morning.
The alleged victim said Kotson was at her Wheeling residence when he began making unsolicited sexual advances, reaching under her shirt. The woman's repeated refusals did not deter Kotson and he continued to place his hands on her body, she said. She made her way to the bathroom, where Kotson followed. He then pushed her against the wall and sexually assaulted her.
Reports further state Kotson admitted in an interview with state police to being at the woman's residence and touching her in a sexual manner.
During the investigation, Adams interviewed several females who had prior relationships with Kotson. Every woman alleged Kotson had made persistent, aggressive sexual advances toward them on different occasions.
One of the females interviewed accused Kotson of holding her down and forcing her to engage in unconsensual sex on three separate occasions. On one of those occasions, she said, her juvenile daughter was present.
Wheeling Police Chief Robert Matheny said his department has been aware of the situation involving Kotson, and the officer was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Monday. He said the department is in the process of taking disciplinary action against Kotson, but could not be more specific.
"Nothing that we are aware of ever happened while the officer was on duty," Matheny said. "We ask that the public not judge the good, hardworking men and women of the Wheeling Police Department on this incident. This should not reflect their character or work ethic."
Matheny said his department will continue to cooperate as State Police troopers investigate Kotson, noting he is concerned for those whom the officer allegedly assaulted.
Ohio County Magistrate Patricia Murphy arraigned Kotson on four counts of second-degree sexual assault Thursday. He was released after posting $40,000 bond.
A special magistrate is expected to be appointed to the case because of Kotson's status with the Wheeling Police Department.
Staff writer Casey Junkins contributed to this report.