The St. Mary's College basketball coach recently indicted on charges of kidnapping and raping his ex-girlfriend can leave the detention center during weekdays for work release, a judge ruled yesterday, but the college said he would remain on administrative leave.
Coatlen Othell Wilson, 38, was arrested in September. Authorities allege that he kidnapped a 20-year-old Virginia college student, took her to his home in rural St. Inigoes, where he kept her throughout the weekend, and assaulted and raped her repeatedly. A grand jury indicted him in the case Tuesday.
At Wilson's bond review hearing in St. Mary's County Circuit Court, Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz ruled that Wilson be held without bond but could participate in work release, provided he was escorted to and from his office at the college by a college police officer.
College spokeswoman Betty Clayton said late yesterday that Wilson's status has not changed.
"He will remain on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the trial," Clayton said.
The college hired an interim coach from Tuskegee University in Alabama shortly after Wilson's arrest to see the Seahawks through their current season.
Wilson spoke briefly at yesterday's hearing, which lasted more than 2 1/2 hours and drew more than 20 friends, relatives and other supporters of the coach, a former University of Virginia star who had a brief professional career in the NBA in the 1980s.
He said he had written a threatening letter to the alleged victim early one morning when he was upset over the breakup of their two-year relationship and worried over the health of his father.
"I am a very positive individual," Wilson told the judge. "I have bad times like anyone else. I have no intention of contacting [the victim] or anyone associated with her ever again. . . . I want to be a positive member of society and get back to work."
When making his ruling, Kaminetz said he was impressed by a string of letters written in Wilson's support by friends and colleagues, including former University of Virginia coach Terry Holland and current Virginia Tech basketball coach Ricky Stokes, one of Wilson's U-Va. teammates. However, Kaminetz went on, "I cannot ignore the defendant's own words." Kaminetz cited passages from the eight-page letter Wilson had written to his accuser that he presented to her on the evening of Sept. 24, when the estranged couple had plans to go out to dinner. Instead, according to prosecutor James Tanavage, Wilson handed the letter to the alleged victim and drove her south from her home in Northern Virginia to St. Mary's County.
"If I'm arrested, I will lose my job and my life, which means I will have absolutely nothing left to lose," Wilson wrote in the letter. The letter went on: "Sometimes I think about just killing both of us. If I go, you're coming with me."
Wilson's attorney, David Densford, said that the letter was written at 4 a.m. and reflected more the stream of consciousness of an angry and frustrated man despondent over the breakup of a longtime relationship than any real threats. Densford argued that Wilson did not actually threaten the victim with a knife; he merely is alleged to have thrown one on the floor and admonished the victim to defend herself.
Further, Densford argued, the victim was not held against her will and had several opportunities to leave Wilson or call for help.