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Prosecutors dismiss case against Gulfport man accused of raping woman he met at bar

The state attorney’s office said the facts of the case were insufficient to prosecute the man.
Timothy Coppola was booked into the Pinellas County jail and released later the same day after posting $10,000 bail, records show.
Timothy Coppola was booked into the Pinellas County jail and released later the same day after posting $10,000 bail, records show. [ Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Dec. 8, 2022|Updated Jan. 20

Prosecutors have dropped a criminal case against a man who was accused of raping a woman he met at a Gulfport bar.

Timothy Allen Coppola, 54, was arrested on a charge of sexual battery on Dec. 6. The case was dismissed on Jan. 11.

Police said Coppola met a woman while out drinking on March 10 and the two began chatting, according to a Gulfport Police Department arrest affidavit. The two eventually went to another bar, but the woman told police she doesn’t remember anything that happened that evening after they left the first bar.

At some point, the affidavit states, Coppola took the woman to his home. She woke up the next morning, naked from the waist down, with bruising around her left eye and soreness in her genital area, police said. However, when she asked Coppola if they had had sex, he said they did not and told her to go shower, police said. He also told her that she had hit her face at some point the previous night.

In an initial interview with police, Coppola denied having sex with the woman and said she fell off a barstool at one point and hit her face. In a second interview with police, he told them he had penetrated her a few times in the back seat of a car on the ride home that night, the affidavit states.

A rape kit found DNA in the woman’s body that matched Coppola’s, according to the arrest affidavit. Sgt. Thomas Woodman, a police spokesperson, said there was a delay between when police believed Coppola raped the woman and when they took him into custody because detectives were waiting DNA test results to establish probable cause for an arrest.

Coppola was booked into the Pinellas County jail and released later the same day after posting $10,000 bail, records show.

Prosecutors said Coppola’s friend drove him and the woman home from the bars. During the drive home, the woman gave Coppola a lap dance and initiated penetrative sex, prosecutors said.

Shortly after the friend dropped Coppola and the woman off at the home, Coppola texted his friend, saying that the woman was trying to rape him, according to Douglas Ellis, a division director at the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office.

Given the text messages and the testimony of Coppola’s friend, prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to successfully pursue a criminal case, Ellis said.

“This didn’t meet that legal level,” Ellis said.