The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not pursue criminal charges in early 2012 against former Police Officer Richard DeCoatsworth - once hailed as a hero, now charged over the weekend with rape - because the complainant, Steven Kocher, was not considered a credible witness, according to First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann.
McCann and Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, said that Kocher told prosecutors and police different stories about an incident in January 2012 in which Kocher accused DeCoatsworth of assaulting him over a debt, and that the disparities were enough to dissuade prosecutors from pursuing criminal charges.
"If we thought someone came forward with credible and sufficient evidence, we would have moved forward," McCann said.
According to a private criminal complaint that Kocher filed with prosecutors on Jan. 25, 2012, DeCoatsworth jumped out of his Jeep in front of Kocher's home on Jan. 24 and yelled, "Why have you been avoiding me?"
DeCoatsworth then slammed Kocher against a wall and took a gold chain from around Kocher's neck, saying, "You'll get this back when I get my money," according to the complaint. DeCoatsworth also took $218 from Kocher's pocket, the complaint says.
But Kocher expanded that story when talking to police on Jan. 28, according to Jamerson, who read the police report over the phone.
In that account, Jamerson said, Kocher told police that DeCoatsworth kidnapped him and drove him around the city, afterward taking the chain and pushing him into a wall.
There was enough for a private complaint of simple assault and harassment, Jamerson said, but Kocher passed up a court appearance and opted for arbitration, resulting in a mutual stay-away order.
On Sunday, Police Capt. John Gallagher offered a different account, saying Kocher had been held at gunpoint while being kidnapped. Jamerson said Kocher did not mention a gun to prosecutors or police.
A man identifying himself as Kocher said in a telephone interview Monday that he was indeed held at gunpoint in DeCoatsworth's car. He was driven around the city, the man said, including to a barbershop while DeCoatsworth got a haircut. He escaped after saying he could get money from a friend's house, the man said.
The man would not say why he needed money from DeCoatsworth in the first place. He said he had moved to New Jersey because he feared for his life.
"It was a scary situation," he said.
He also said DeCoatsworth threatened his mother with a gun as she drove by his house soon after the incident.
But Jamerson said that in the accounts that Kocher gave to police and prosecutors, he alleged that DeCoatsworth had pointed at Kocher's mother with his fingers in the shape of a gun, not with an actual firearm.
Court records indicate Kocher repeatedly has been charged with drug offenses, as recently as 2011.
DeCoatsworth remains in jail with bail set at $60 million on charges of rape, sexual assault, terroristic threats, and related offenses in connection with his arrest Saturday.
Inquirer staff writers Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman and Troy Graham contributed to this article.