A recovery coach working for Oriana House in Akron has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery.
Todd Matthews, 42, is accused of taking a woman he was supervising at the treatment facility to a parking lot and sexually assaulting her in his vehicle in early May. The day he was arrested, another woman came forward and reportedly told detectives that she had sex with Matthews in April while staying at the facility on Power Street.
“People that are going through these programs sometimes are at the lowest points in their lives and they are very susceptible to these types of crimes,” said Inspector William Holland of the Summit Co. Sheriff’s Office. “Someone that would victimize these people at this point in their life is something we don’t take lightly.”
According to a spokesperson for Oriana House, Matthews remains on unpaid suspension. However, the spokesperson would not divulge how long Matthews has been employed at the non-profit. Inspector Holland said investigators are also considering the possibility that there may be more victims. Additional charges are pending the outcome of that inquiry, he said.
“If we have one victim we could have multiple victims. That’s kind of the point of the investigation we are at now,” Inspector Holland said. “He’s had access to several other [women]…whether or not it’s just in the facility or outside the facility as well. We want to make sure there are no other victims in this case.”
Recovery coaches, like Matthews, are starkly different from recovery counselors. Under state law, recovery coaches are certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. In order to obtain certification, applicants must be established in his or her recovery, submit references, undergo background checks and complete a 40 hour, week-long training that is sponsored by the state. They also have to take 16 hours of peer support classes. The entire process could take up to six months.
Inspector Holland said these types of cases, especially those concerning people in a position of authority, are extremely important to investigate and solve.
“It’s hard to say that some cases are the most important or more important than others but I would put these at the top,” Inspector Holland said. “For one, it’s important to get the offender off of the street and to keep him or her from re-offending other potential victims. I believe it’s important for the victims as well to get closure.”
Oriana House is fully cooperating with the investigation, Inspector Holland said.