Rossford man sentenced to prison for rape

A Rossford man found guilty by a jury of three counts of rape is going to prison.

Stephen Coker Jr., 61, appeared Aug. 16 in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger.

He continued to maintain his innocence and plans to appeal his sentence.

A jury in July returned the guilty verdicts against Coker, who was indicted in April 2021 after he engaged in sexual conduct by force or threat of force.

The incidents occurred between Jan. 1-June 14, 2020; on Jan. 30, 2019; and between April 1-Sept. 1, 2019.

The charges are first-degree felonies.

“He still denies the allegations happened,” said defense attorney Brian Morrissey.

“Today I stand as a man of faith. I trust in my God,” Coker said.

He said he does not like to see injustices.

“I’ll give you my last dollar. I’ll give you my heart,” Coker said.

He said he didn’t take the plea bargain when it was offered because he didn’t do the crime.

In January, Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hoppenjans had offered to amend the indictment to three counts sexual battery, all third-degree felonies. In exchange, the state recommended a sentence of four years of community control.

“And yes, I deny committing a crime because I didn’t do it,” Coker said.

His client has family support, shown by the estimated 10 people seated behind him in the courtroom, Morrissey said.

‘It’s a testament to who he is as a father, a husband. His first wife is here as well,” he said.

“No matter what happens, I stand for Jesus,” Coker said.

Morrissey asked for minimum sanctions but said he realized there is a mandatory prison sentence.

The victim made a lengthy statement via video from Texas.

She said the offenses have impacted her life more than she’d like to give them credit for. She said she felt like a sex slave.

“Mr. Coker hasn’t expressed any remorse for this,” Hoppenjans said, and he has blamed the victim.

While Coker has a lot of support – murmurs of agreement came from the audience – “he’s not willing to accept that support,” Hoppenjans said.

He recommended six years for each count, to be served consecutively for a total of 18 years.

Reger said Coker’s comments about being a devoted husband and father were not the subject of the trial and reminded him that the charges were for non-consensual sex.

Coker said the charge of rape is a heinous act and he wouldn’t do it to the victim or anyone else.

“I don’t force myself on women,” he said.

Coker will have to register as a Tier III sex offender, meaning he must register every 90 days for life.

Reger read through the lengthy rules of sex offender registration, and Coker paused before signing.

Reger pointed out the defendant didn’t have an option, after having been found guilty.

“I think it’s obvious to everyone this is a difficult case in a lot of ways,” he said.

He said he heard from the victim and read the numerous letters in support of the defendant; however, Reger said that had to acknowledge the jury returned guilty verdicts.

He imposed a sentence of three years for each charge, to be served consecutively, for a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 10.5 years.

Supporters stayed by Coker’s side as court personnel placed him in handcuffs for preparation for transport to jail.

One woman left the courtroom shouting and in tears while another one said, “I love you daddy.”

Morrissey asked for a bond to be set while the appeal was filed.

Reger denied that request.