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The woman accusing retired police officer Gregory Cody of coercing her into a sexual relationship described Tuesday at his trial dozens of late-night encounters, most in his cruiser, while he was on duty, in parking lots around south Lincoln.

"I did as I was told," the 32-year-old divorced mother told the jury. "I thought I had no choice."

"Why?" Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Amy Goodro asked her.

"Because he was a cop," the woman answered.

Cody, 56, faces a single charge of first-degree sexual assault for more than a year's worth of interactions, including about 50 sexual encounters that the woman told investigators were forced.

Cody says what happened was consensual.

It all started one night in July 2016, when, suicidal, the woman climbed onto the backstop at a ball field at Holmes Lake Park.

Lincoln police talked her down, promising not to take her into emergency protective custody, but her pants got stuck on the fence and Cody had to help her.

When she got down, she ended up in handcuffs.

She said Cody took her to a hospital to check out her injured wrist, then told her he wasn't going to place her in emergency protective custody but that she would "owe him."

Soon after, he started to contact her on social media and text her. At first, she said, Cody had said he wanted to help her, but then he started trying to touch her thigh and making sexual comments that made her uncomfortable. When she pulled away, he laughed it off and said he was kidding.

"Sometimes he would get the hint and leave me alone," she said.

Sometimes he didn't, she said. Eventually, their meetings in his cruiser, and at times his personal car, turned sexual. She said she tried to "non-aggressively resist him."

With Cody's family watching in court, she described an incident in the parking lot of the Lincoln Children's Zoo one night in June 2017 where, she said, he told her to be a good girl, then put her in a choke hold, pushed her up against her car and put his hand down her pants.

"The more I fought the more he got mad," she said.

She said Cody later apologized and told her that he thought that's what she wanted.

When Goodro asked why she kept seeing Cody for a year, she said no matter how hard she tried to avoid him, he wouldn't leave her alone. Texts that sounded like a couple flirting, she said, were about survival and keeping Cody happy.

She said, "I didn't want to get EPC'd."

"I was convinced he was right," she added. "Who was going to believe me?"

At the end of the trial, the jury will be asked whether what the woman described was first-degree sexual assault.

In opening statements Monday afternoon, Cody's attorney, John Ball, said there was only one thing at issue: Consent.

And there are two sides to the story. He said what happened between Cody and the woman was a consensual, sexual relationship between two adults.

"Simple as that," Ball said.

Deputy County Attorney Jessica Murphy described it differently, saying Cody wouldn't let the woman forget he was a police officer or her history of mental health issues.

She said Cody believed that the power he had as a police officer would protect him against the woman's allegations. But what he did to her was first-degree sexual assault, she said.

"No one is above the law," she told the jury.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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