The Ottowa County Courthouse. Photo from Google Maps.
A former Put-In-Bay police officer could face up to 18 months in prison after she was accused last summer of submitting a false accusation of rape against a “volunteer” police officer.
Last week, a special prosecutor with the office of the Ohio Attorney General asked a judge to exclude evidence from the trial showing the male officer and alleged rapist has been accused of sexual assault twice in the past.
An Ottawa County grand jury handed up an indictment in October 2020 charging Arica Waters, 29, with two counts of “making false alarms” in reporting a sexual assault committed by an officer, only identified in court documents as “J.B.” and a “volunteer” Put-In-Bay police officer.
Documents appearing in the Waters case file are scant on detail as to the nature of Waters’ original allegation against J.B., besides that it occurred in July 2020. In court documents, she said she did not consent to sexual conduct that occurred with J.B. Additionally, she said she was incapable of willful consent as she was “wildly intoxicated.”
Last month, prosecutors turned over as part of the evidence exchange process before trial two previous investigations into J.B. for sexual assault: one from Ottawa County in 2008 and one from Hancock County from 2021. J.B. has not been charged in either case.
“These additional reports followed a near-identical pattern of J.B. using alcohol and a position of power to engage in nonconsensual sex,” Waters’ attorney said in a court filing.
On Friday, state prosecutors asked the judge to exclude both investigations from trial. They said the 2008 investigation in Ottawa County did not lead to charges because the complainant withdrew her allegation and stated she “could have been a consenting participant in the sexual activity.”
The 2021 Hancock County investigation, they said, centered around alleged misconduct from 2008. In 2021, the complainant told the detective that “she hoped she wasn’t just dreaming this” and “questioned if it was really a memory” — the alleged victim noted she lost her memory in 2012 as a side effect of prescribed medication, including the 2008 night of the alleged assault.
“A dream has no relevance at trial,” prosecutors said, arguing the accusations would unfairly cause prejudice against J.B.
Steve Irwin, a spokesman for Attorney General Dave Yost, declined to comment on the case, citing ongoing criminal proceedings. He didn’t respond when asked whether Yost had ever before brought charges against a person for falsely reporting a sex crime.
“Charging decisions are based upon the unique evidence in each case,” he said. “Charges for a falsification offense are appropriate when an investigation clearly shows that an accusation was knowingly fabricated. As with any criminal case, the evidence supporting the charges will be presented at trial.”
Sarah Anjum, an attorney representing Waters, identified the alleged assailant, but the Ohio Capital Journal is not publishing his name as he has not been charged with a crime.
Put-In-Bay Police Detective Sgt. Yuri Linetsky said Waters no longer works at the department and referred inquiries to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. He didn’t respond to questions about the nature of Waters’ alleged assailant’s employment at the department.
J.B. was identified as a “volunteer” police officer by Put-In-Bay Police Captain Matt Mariano, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff Department’s investigation of Waters’ claims.
The case file, which the department provided on request, details an investigator rounding up statements from several officers who attended a booze-soaked party that occurred before two sexual encounters between Waters and her alleged assailant.
The investigator questioned Waters about text messages she said Waters sent claiming she would make a “sugar daddy” out of her alleged assailant.
Anjum said the department seems to have spent much more effort investigating Waters herself than it did investigating her allegation of rape. She said her client is now struggling to get by as the case unfolds.
She said Waters is dealing with “the psychological fallout from her assault, and the criminalization of reporting that assault.”
Waters was indicted on two counts of “making false alarms.” This means submitting any report to law enforcement “knowing that such offense did not occur.” If convicted, she faces between six to 18 months in prison.
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