Alleged Victim Testifies at Grand Traverse County Court Hearing
For the first time, we’re hearing from one of the alleged victims who accuses a Traverse City man of drugging and assaulting him. 9 & 10 was the only news team in the courtroom Thursday morning as Christopher Cox was back before a judge in a preliminary hearing. Cox is accused of drugging and raping multiple victims. Earlier this month he rejected a plea deal.
The man says he met former pastor Christopher Cox online, using an app called Grindr. Grindr identifies itself as “the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people” and claims to have millions of users.
The man says he went to an office to meet Cox in downtown Traverse City. “We chatted a little bit, about random things. Did a couple drugs. That’s about it. (Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg: What type of drugs?) Meth. (Prosecutor: What happened after you used meth?) I don’t recall.”
The reluctant witness took the stand, a man in his 20’s who says he met Cox because he “wanted to see who a friend was hanging out with.” It was during that first meeting the alleged victim says he tried meth for the first time, after Cox showed him how to smoke it with a pipe. After that, the man’s memory of events isn’t very clear. But he says he was there with Cox for several hours. “(Prosecutor: What’s the next thing you remember after having some water?) I don’t remember. It’s all a blur. (When did you leave the defendant’s office?) Between 5 and 6 am.”
The man says when he came back for a second meeting with Cox, he learned there was a video showing a sexual encounter. The alleged victim says he never gave permission to be recorded – and never gave permission to be touched and never agreed to sex. “(Prosecutor: When you got to his office what was he doing?) Sitting at his desk, watching a video. I think it was of me. (Of you?) He told me he records everything that happens in his office. And I asked him to delete the video of me.”
The alleged victim initially testified that he didn’t remember what happened when he was alone with Cox, and also didn’t remember what he had seen in the video that Cox allegedly took. But while on the stand, he was shown the notes from his interview with a detective, where the man acknowledged that he was sexually assaulted.
“(Prosecutor: I’m going to ask you to tell us today what you saw in that video.) I just saw us doing sexual things. I didn’t like it. I wasn’t cool with it. I asked him to delete it.” The prosecutor continued, “(Do you remember doing those sexual things with him?) No ma’am. (What were you doing in the video?) Just, pretty much there. Laying there. (Were you conscious?) I’m not sure.” The victim says his eyes were both open and closed in the video, and he wasn’t really moving.
The man says he was told Cox would delete the video on one condition. “(Prosecutor: And did he delete it?) I’m not sure. (Did you do anything to try to convince him to delete the video?) Yes ma’am. (And what was that?) Just sexual activities. (And what would happen if you engaged in sexual activity with him?) That the video would get deleted.”
Cox’s defense attorney Paul Jarboe points out the video hasn’t surfaced yet and it’s not part of evidence. He also questioned the man’s willingness to return to meet with Cox – maybe as many as five times – to meet for sex and drugs. Jarboe says, “You went back to Mr. Cox’s office again? (Man: Yes, sir.) And you went voluntarily? (Yes, sir.)” Did you have sexual relations with Mr. Cox on the third visit? (Um, probably yes.) Would you agree you were there voluntarily? You were there of your own accord? No one dragged you, correct? (Yes, sir.)” The cross-examination continued. “Did you have sexual relations with Mr. Cox on the third visit? (Um, probably yes.) Would you agree you were there voluntarily? You were there of your own accord? No one dragged you, correct? (Yes, sir.)”
The prosecutor is now asking to add an additional charge for extortion after the testimony that Cox would delete the video if the man willingly had sex with him. That issue will be taken up by the judge at another court appearance later this month. There was no other decision or resolution at Thursday’s preliminary hearing.