A former Penn State ROTC student accused of sexual assault was acquitted of all charges Friday after a trial at the Centre County Courthouse.
Corey S. Kohler, 22, of Dover, was charged in April 2016 with counts of indecent assault and harassment stemming from an alleged incident involving a fellow ROTC cadet. The cadet claimed Kohler had touched her inappropriately after allowing him to spend the night at her apartment.
The court first heard testimony from the cadet, who said the incident had occurred after the Air Force ball in early April 2016. She testified to having attended the ball and a few other parties after the event concluded.
Kohler offered to walk her home, despite her protests, she said. Due to the unseasonably cold weather, she offered a couch for him to sleep on, but they were being used by friends of her roommate. She said she prepared a place on her bedroom floor for him to sleep.
She testified that at about 5 a.m. she awoke to movement in her bed and discovered Kohler had climbed in bed with her. She then claimed he rubbed her back before touching her in intimate areas. Afterward, she said, she fell back asleep until the morning.
Much of defense attorney Matt McClenahen’s cross examination of the cadet focused on what appeared to be inconsistencies in her stories. During a preliminary hearing in June 2016, McClenahen noted that the cadet testified to the back rubbing lasting “a few minutes,” while at the trial she noted the entire event lasted only “20-30 seconds.”
McClenahen further noted that the cadet’s written statement to the police did not mention Kohler touching her back, only that she woke up to him touching her intimate areas. The cadet also told McClenahen that she never told Kohler to stop, but did “clench up” and ignored the touching, which eventually stopped and Kohler went to sleep.
The court heard testimony from the cadet’s ROTC instructor, Air Force Capt. Bethany Carpenter, who said the cadet had approached her about the incident a few days after it allegedly happened. Carpenter testified that the cadet’s story never changed with her, but that she also did not push for details, saying it was not the role of an instructor.
Carpenter also testified that the cadet had not mentioned that she and Kohler had slept in the same bed for the remainder of the night.
The jury was provided a recorded phone call arranged between the cadet and Kohler in the hopes of obtaining evidence, such as an admission to the assault. In the call, Kohler mentioned he had been cold then climbed into bed with the cadet where it was warmer. He claimed that’s all he remembered doing, saying “a lot doesn’t make sense when I’m drunk.”
When asked by the cadet if he remembered touching her, he said he didn’t remember it at all, adding that all he could say was that he was sorry.
The jury — made up of seven women and five men — deliberated for more than an hour and a half before returning two verdicts of not guilty to the charges of indecent assault of an unconscious person and indecent assault with no consent. Centre County Judge Katherine Oliver, who presided over the trial, also issued a not guilty rule on the charge of harassment.
McClenahen said after the trial that he was relieved for his client, saying that “two ‘not guilty’ verdicts were to be expected. This case turned out exactly as it should have.”