Grand jury indicts Cotterman on felony charge

By Alexandra Newman -

SIDNEY — The police chief of Jackson Center was arrested Thursday after being indicted on a felony charge.

Joseph E. Cotterman was indicted Thursday by a Shelby County grand jury on one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth-degree.

According to court records, “on or about Jan. 27, 2016, … he, by force, had sexual contact with a 19-year-old female.”

According to a press release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, on Jan. 27, 2016, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the mother of a 19-year-old female, stating that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by Cotterman. The incident was alleged to have occurred when Cotterman was on duty. Within 30 minutes of the incident the investigation was started, the victim was interviewed and sent to Wilson Health for an examination. Cotterman was asked to come to the Sheriff’s Office where he was interviewed later that evening. Cotterman denied all allegations and was released.

Evidence in the case was presented to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification lab, who examined all of the evidence presented, according to the press release.

“Although any case of this type is disturbing, what makes this more difficult is that the subject of the investigation is a person of public trust. My office handled this case just as it would with any other case and used every resource to ensure a fair and impartial investigation,” Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said in the press release.

Cotterman was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 5, following the filing of the original complaint against him.

Jackson Center Mayor Scott Klopfenstein said earlier this month, Cotterman was placed on administrative leave because “we felt he needed that time” to deal with the situation.

“We thought it was best that he didn’t respond to calls in Jackson Center,” he said.

At the Feb. 8, meeting of the Jackson Center Village Council the council voted to make Lt. Chief Chuck Wirick the interim chief.

The council also voted to leave Cotterman’s pay intact as well as his K9 stipend until the first council meeting in March when they would revisit it. They voted to increase Wirick’s pay as well, until further notice, from $1,477.77 bi-weekly to $1,686.54 bi-weekly.

Cotterman was arrested without incident Thursday and briefly incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail 0n a $5,000 bond. His arraignment is set for March 3 at 10 a.m.

By Alexandra Newman

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.