JACKSON CENTER — After an executive session Monday night, the Jackson Center Village Council passed a motion to change Police Chief Joe Cotterman’s status from paid administrative leave to unpaid administrative leave.
Village council has an agreement with Cotterman in which he will be on unpaid leave until after the trial, subject to council and Cotterman’s right to change the agreement. While the village council reserves the right to discuss this again, they do not plan to until after the trial, Village Administrator Bruce Metz said.
Cotterman was placed on administrative leave in early February, following the filing of a criminal complaint against him. At the Feb. 8 Jackson Center Village Council meeting, Lt. Chief Chuck Wirick was named the interim police chief.
On Feb. 25, Cotterman, 35, was indicted by a Shelby County grand jury on one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth-degree.
According to court records, Cotterman is accused of having sexual contact with a 19-year-old female.
Cotterman entered a not-guilty plea at his arraignment in early March. His trial was set to start May 12, but was rescheduled for July 26 at the request of the attorney’s handling the case, according to court records.
During the citizen’s comment part of the regular council meeting Monday night, Jack Bastian, of Piqua, addressed council representing the Integrity Project, which reports back to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Integrity Project takes on cases of people who have been wrongly prosecuted or accused of a crime, he said.
“The group, made of up former FBI agents, police officers, and citizens, has taken on the case of Joey Cotterman,” Bastian said. “We are very careful in the way we take on cases, and we have to have a strong belief that these individuals are innocent of the crimes they are accused of.”
He said it seems to him there have been one-sided stories told to the public and the press and he was there to show the council the other side. Bastian then gave several examples of why he thought the victim was not credible in this case.
Bastian also claimed to have a copy of the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification (OBI&I) lab report, which allegedly shows that it was not Cotterman’s seminal DNA found in the investigation.
He asked the council, “to give this a really strong thought before making a decision that comes back to haunt you and the citizens of this fine community. He’s not guilty of this crime, he’s going to have his day in court.”
A request made by the Sidney Daily News after the meeting to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for comments on what was said at the council meeting was declined due to the ongoing court case.
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