Cotterman claims smear campaign in civil suit

By Heather Willard -

SIDNEY — Jackson Center Police Chief Joseph Cotterman has filed a response in a civil case brought against him in January of this year by Meranda A. Suttles, of Sidney, who has accused him of attempted rape.

Suttles’ suit alleges in court documents filed by her lawyer, Jason Flower, that Cotterman forced himself on her on Jan. 27, 2016, and also offered her $40 and a used cell phone, which she allegedly refused. Suttles says her constitutional and civil rights have been violated and that she was assaulted, falsely imprisoned and suffered emotional and physical distress from her encounter with Cotterman in his role as police chief.

In the documents submitted Thursday by Cotterman’s defense lawyer Jeremy Tomb, Cotterman denies many of these charges, but did admit he gave Suttles the money and phone, and returned her to her house that night.

The documents also claim that Suttles did not file her complaint in the right venue, and that her own actions caused her to accrue damage. Additionally, Cotterman joined Melissa Maloon to the case and accused her and Suttles of running a smear campaign against him through word of mouth and Facebook posts. The documents submitted by Tomb ask for $25,000 in the case against Maloon, and $25,000 in the joint case against Maloon and Suttles.

Cotterman also accuses defendants acting Chief Chuck Wirick and the village of Jackson Center failed to defend Cotterman, which he claims they have a duty to do. The village’s response was filed on April 3, and denies all knowledge of any wrongdoing. In the documents filed by Tomb on Thursday, Cotterman asks for $25,000 in damages.

Wirick and the village were named as defendants in this civil case by Suttles because she believes them to have not fulfilled their duty in training Cotterman on how to act around women, especially in light of several past cases against the police chief.

Suttles claims indifference and negligence on the part of Wirick and the village because of Cotterman’s history of sexual allegations. The alleged incident occurred on Jan. 27, 2016, and involved a 19-year-old female, who claimed to be assaulted by Cotterman while he was on duty. Cotterman was found not guilty in this case in January 2017.

Another case, in which Cotterman was accused of have sexual conduct with a 17-year-old girl, was dismissed on May 23, 2017, by the prosecutor after a potential witness made a statement inconsistent with the victim’s.

Cotterman has been on unpaid leave since May 2016, and was originally on paid leave starting Feb. 5, 2016, following the filing of a criminal complaint against him.

By Heather Willard

Reach the writer 937-538-4825

Reach the writer 937-538-4825