WHEELING - Judge Arthur Recht made the decision Monday that 12 jurors could not as he acquitted Matthew Kotson of a second count of first-degree sexual abuse.
Jurors acquitted Kotson of one count of first-degree sexual abuse on Sept. 19. They failed to reach a verdict on the second, identical count, and Recht subsequently declared a mistrial.
Kotson's attorney, Robert McCoid, moved for the acquittal on the second charge at the close of the prosecution's case, citing insufficient evidence. Recht reserved ruling on that motion and instead sent the second charge to the jury.
"I've been doing this now for 20 years, and in those 20 years I don't think I've ever granted a judgment of acquittal at the close of the state's case - and I'm not going to do it now," Recht said at the time McCoid made the motion.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge, however, after nearly 10 hours of deliberation over two days. The judge took McCoid's motion up again Monday and ultimately acquitted Kotson of the charge, saying the state failed to carry its burden and prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
Recht also scheduled Kotson's two remaining trials for March 25 and April 1.
"We've maintained and continue to maintain that Matthew is innocent of all of theses charges, and Judge Recht's ruling certainly reinforces our position," McCoid said.
Special Prosecutor David F. Cross did not return calls seeking comment.
Recht had told the defense and prosecution last month that the mistrial would not be addressed this term of court. He said he would schedule a new trial during the first week of April, but went ahead and granted the acquittal Monday.
A woman accused Kotson of sexually abusing her twice while at her home Nov. 24. She, along with two of Kotson's other female accusers, testified for the prosecution during the first day of the trial. All three women were previously involved in a relationship with the former police officer.
Kotson took the stand in his own defense during the second day of the trial and said he stopped his sexual advances when the woman said "no."
This is the third count of which Kotson has been cleared. Recht granted a motion by Cross in July to dismiss one count of second-degree sexual assault, canceling the first of four trials for the former police officer. Cross at the time said uncooperative witnesses led to a drastic deterioration of the prosecution's case.
Kotson remains free on $100,000 bond.