SIDNEY — A civil lawsuit has been filed in Shelby County Common Pleas Court against Joseph Cotterman, currently displaced police chief of Jackson Center; current Chief Chuck Wirick; and the village of Jackson Center, about accusations regarding a reported incident of rape.
On Jan. 26, Meranda A. Suttles, of Sidney, filed the action through her attorney Jason Flower, of Lima. They are asking more than $25,000 in damages from the defendants plus legal costs.
According to court records, Suttles is claiming her constitutional and civil rights were violated, that she was assaulted, falsely imprisoned, and suffered emotional distress from an encounter with Cotterman in his role as police chief.
She also claims Wirick was indifferent, and knew of Cotterman’s past similar behavior, failing to administer proper conduct supervision. The village was named and is accused of having repeated knowledge of Cotterman’s behavior and not taking preventative action.
In a related court matter, Cotterman still faces a state criminal case being accused of rape. A final pretrial is set for May 8 with a jury trial slated for May 23.
Earlier this year, Cotterman was found not guilty by a jury in a state case accusing him of gross sexual imposition.
The alleged incident reportedly occurred on Jan. 27, 2016. Authorities reported the allegations included Cotterman “by force, had sexual contact with a 19-year-old female.”
According to a press release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, reporting the incident, the 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 while Cotterman was on duty.
The release indicated, 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, denied all allegations, and was released.
Evidence in the case was presented to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification lab, who examined all the evidence presented, according to the press release.
Cotterman was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 5, 2016, following the filing of the original complaint against him.
The SDN reported that Jackson Center Mayor Scott Klopfenstein said at the time, Cotterman was placed on administrative leave because “we felt he needed that time” to deal with the situation.
At the Feb. 8, 2016, meeting of the Jackson Center Village Council, the council voted to make Lt. Chief Chuck Wirick the interim chief.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.