WHEELING - An alleged victim of Matthew Kotson testified Monday that she told the former police officer "no" more than 100 times, but he continued his unsolicited advances and sexually abused her at her home on Thanksgiving Day last year.
The prosecution rested its case as the first day of Kotson's trial on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse concluded Monday in Ohio County Circuit Court. The trial resumed this morning when the defense called its first witness.
"This case is about the man who wouldn't take no for an answer," Special Prosecutor David F. Cross said in his opening statement.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Former Wheeling police officer Matthew Kotson sits in Ohio County Circuit Court during the first day of his trial on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse Monday.
The first of Kotson's three accusers to testify Monday supported the prosecution's claim, saying the former police officer was unrelenting when he arrived at her home on the morning of Nov. 24.
The 25-year-old said she met Kotson on Facebook in September 2011 and the pair met at her home the same day. They were "sort of dating," she said, but admitted they rarely left the house together.
About a month later, they mutually decided to maintain an exclusively sexual relationship. The woman said she went back on that decision a short time later, however, when she was told Kotson was involved with another woman.
She said she believed Kotson was looking to have sex with her when he came to her home Nov. 24, and although she was not interested, she let him inside. She said she was lying on the couch when Kotson sat at her feet. She said he continued to make physical advances.
She continued to verbally and physically rebuff Kotson's advances, she said, but he persisted in touching her. She eventually went outside to get away from him.
The alleged victim said Kotson then followed her upstairs and forced her onto the bed with him.
She was able to make her way to the bathroom and was getting ready for the day when Kotson approached her from behind, pressed his body against hers and wrapped his arms around her, she said.
"He said, 'OK, I'll leave if you give me a kiss,'" she testified. "So I gave him a peck real quick, and he was trying to put his hand up my shirt and he pulled down my pants real quick ... ,"
The former police officer acted with such force, the alleged victim added, she later discovered she was bleeding.
Kotson's attorney, Robert McCoid, said his client's only crime was believing the victim when she said she wanted to maintain a "friends with benefits" relationship. The defense attorney also pointed out the alleged victim waited hours to report the crime to West Virginia State Police later that evening.
Senior Status Judge Arthur Recht prevented Cross from admitting a portion of medical records that the defense did not have access to prior to Monday.
The alleged victim was evaluated at Wheeling Hospital early Nov. 25. Among the records that were admitted into evidence were reports from the examining nurse that stated the alleged victim showed no sign of being sexually assaulted. The nurse also testified that while she had a bruise on her hip and a scrape to her forearm, the alleged victim could not say for certain how she had been injured.
Kotson's voice was heard in open court for the first time when the prosecution played a recording of his interview with State Police Cpl. James Dean. In that interview, which was conducted the day after the alleged crime, Kotson admitted propositioning the woman multiple times. He even admitted touching her breast, but said he ceased when she expressed her disinterest.
"I started kissing her stomach and all that, and she was OK with that," Kotson told Dean. "Once it went so far then she told me to stop and that is when I stopped. No clothes came off, nothing."
Dean continually questions Kotson about a reason why the woman would fabricate such an allegation against the former police officer. Kotson said she may have been jealous because he had begun seeing another woman shortly after ending the relationship with his accuser.
"The other thing," Kotson told Dean, "I've arrested her before."
Kotson was the investigating officer in a petit larceny case against the woman. He obtained warrants for her arrest but did not personally take her into custody. The case was ultimately resolved and the charge dismissed. Kotson told Dean he was never consulted prior to the dismissal.
The jury seemed most affected by testimony from one of Kotson's other accusers in response to McCoid's questioning. One juror covered her mouth as that alleged victim testified that Kotson had held her hands behind her head and raped her on three separate occasions.
McCoid pointed out the woman did not report the alleged crimes to police or receive medical attention. Cross asked the woman why she did not notify anyone. Recht overruled McCoid's objection to the question by Cross, saying the defense attorney opened the door when he stressed that the woman had remained silent.
"He's a cop. No one would ever expect a cop to do that," the alleged victim said. "He's threatened me. He's threatened my family. We called the chief of police and no one would help me."
The jury, however, is to give only slight consideration to that woman's testimony, Recht instructed. She testified to show a pattern of Kotson's behavior, the judge said, not to convict Kotson of what allegedly happened on Nov. 24.
Recht will wait to rule on McCoid's motion to dismiss count one against Kotson, which addresses the sexual abuse that allegedly occurred on the woman's couch. The defense offered that motion at the close of the prosecution's case, citing a lack of medical evidence to support the charge.