SIDNEY — The jury was selected and the victim testified on the first day in the jury trial of Jackson Center Police Chief Joseph Cotterman.
Cotterman was charged with one count of gross sexual imposition. He is accused of having sexual contact with a 19-year-old female.
A group of nearly 50 potential jurors was whittled down to 14 and one alternate. The jurors were asked about potential conflicts of interest, biases, and other instances that would lead to them not being able to be impartial. Each juror was also questioned individually about their knowings about the case from media attention.
Once the jurors were selected, and instructions were given to them by Shelby County Common Pleas Court Judge James Stevenson, the prosecution, Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell, and the defense, Jeremy Tomb, of Klein, Tomb & Eberly LLP, out of Troy, gave their opening statements, then questioned the victim.
Sell spoke about the events of the day the alleged gross sexual imposition act happened. He gave details about how the victim called Cotterman to help her with some legal matters. It was reported in court Cotterman offered to take her to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and then on way back to Jackson Center from Sidney they stopped by his home. This is where he allegedly invited her inside and forcibly kissed her and put his hands down the front and back of her pants.
Sell explained how Cotterman was called to the victims home two weeks prior because she was contemplating suicide. As Sell questioned the victim he tried to establish her trust of Cotterman as a police officer, and that being one of the reasons she was with him on the day of the incident.
The defense attempted to discredit the victim by pointing to prior mental health issues she had dealt with, including the incident where she first met Cotterman. Tomb explained how the timeline of events that have been reported would have been hard to happen in the amount of time from when she met up with Cotterman on the day of the incident to the time she called her mother when she arrived back at her home.
There was also discussion about a cell phone Cotterman gave the victim and if that was the reason they stopped at his home. Tomb said when the victim first gave her report to the sheriff’s deputies she didn’t mention the cell phone. She testified she didn’t think of it because she was so shaken up from the incident that had just taken place.
The Sidney Daily News will be in court again Tuesday. See Wednesday’s paper for more details from Monday’s proceedings and what transpired during more witness testimony on Tuesday.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.