A Rossford man found guilty by a jury of three counts of rape has had his sentence vacated.
Stephen Coker, 62, was released from incarceration Wednesday, according to daughter Sierra Goodins.
“He has always stood by his innocence, and I have too,” she said. “That’s what led me to continue to fight for my dad.”
A jury in July 2022 returned the guilty verdicts against Coker, who was indicted in April 2021 after he was accused of engaging in sexual conduct by force or threat of force.
He was sentenced in August 2022 to nine to 10.5 years in prison and filed an appeal one month later.
The 6th District Court of Appeals filed its ruling earlier this month.
Because the state failed to present sufficient evidence to support the convictions, the appeals court reversed the judgement and vacated Coker’s convictions.
According to court documents, the alleged victim reported she met Coker in November 2014 at a religious conference. They married and moved to Rossford in 2016.
The alleged victim testified to numerous inappropriate sexual encounters with Coker.
After all witnesses testified, the defense made a motion for acquittal, citing evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction.
Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger denied the motion.
Because Coker’s rape convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence, the appeals court ruled his second and third assignments of error regarding ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct were rendered moot.
“We were very disappointed at the decision from the Court of Appeals,” said Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson. “Certainly, we disagree with the opinion and believe that they have extended certain prior decisions beyond what was originally intended. We are heart-broken for the victim that the court let a convicted rapist go free based upon that. We have until mid-January to decide how we will respond to this and we are considering our options.”