Wife of Washington man accused in abortion-pill case sentenced for hush-money attempt


The wife of a former nurse practitioner in Gig Harbor accused of forcing abortion pills into his pregnant girlfriend was in court Tuesday to plead guilty to trying to pay off the girlfriend to not go to the authorities.

Melissa Coots, 39, will not face jail time for the crime. She pleaded guilty to attempted witness tampering, a gross misdemeanor, and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Grant Blinn imposed a two-year deferred sentence which the defense and prosecutors agreed to recommend.

The sentence means that if Coots maintains law-abiding behavior for two years, the charge will be dismissed, according to a spokesperson for the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. A review hearing was set for June 11, 2026.

Prosecutors originally charged Coots with witness tampering, a felony, but the offense was reduced in exchange for her guilty plea. She has no prior criminal history.

Her husband, David B. Coots, 42, was an advanced registered nurse practitioner at MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park. He is no longer employed there, and his nursing licenses were suspended by the state Board of Nursing in April until his legal issues are resolved.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault with a domestic-violence emphasis, third-degree rape and witness tampering. He was arrested March 11 for five counts of violating a domestic-violence court order, and he is now out of custody on $500,000 bail.

Prosecutors accused the husband and wife of showing up at the girlfriend's house and trying to pay her to not pursue legal and medical aid after David Coots allegedly prescribed abortion pills to himself and put four of them into his girlfriend during sex in January. According to court records, Melissa Coots asked the woman how much money it would take for her to not say anything to the police.

During the hearing, the person Melissa Coots tried to pay off, a woman in her 30s, addressed the court, telling the judge that the defendant's actions had shocked her to her core, and her silence could not be bought. After hearing from Coots' defense attorney, Coots made her own statement, stating that her life had been torn apart because of the actions of other people.

Before Blinn imposed the sentence, he said he didn't doubt that it had been a traumatic process for Coots, but he was disappointed that her statement to the court did not acknowledge the harm she had caused.

"I would encourage you as you move through this process, and it's going to be a process, that you, in addition to worrying about healing yourself and your family to the extent that it can be done, that you also consider the impact that this has had on others along the way," Blinn said. "And I'm not talking about your husband's actions."

The woman David Coots' is accused of assaulting read from a piece of paper while she addressed the court. She said David Coots had killed their unborn child, and while she was reeling from the realization that he is not who he had portrayed himself to be, his wife tried to take advantage of her grief, pain and confusion.

Melissa Coots stared straight ahead while the woman spoke.

The woman said Melissa Coots used their shared faith as a weapon against her feelings, tried to manipulate her emotions by asking her to think of Melissa's son and repeatedly asked her how much money she wanted to stay quiet.

"Melissa begged me to stay quiet because of how much the assault her husband committed against me would affect her," the woman said in court.

Case details

David Coots was the woman's primary care provider, according to charging documents, and their relationship became romantic in the fall of last year. Coots reportedly told the woman in mid-September he was married but that he and his wife were in the process of divorcing.

The woman told police that they had sex several times outside the hospital, and David Coots would sometimes make his patients wait while he was with her, according to court records. She believed she was pregnant after receiving five positive pregnancy tests and one inconclusive test, and she told David Coots about the pregnancy on Jan. 20. She later told Sheriff's Department detectives that he acted supportive, at one point asking her what type of stroller they should get.

After the alleged sexual assault on Jan. 27, the woman went to an emergency room to have a rape kit performed, and she later told detectives she suffered abnormal bleeding and stomach pain for three days. A doctor told her the bleeding could have been from a possible miscarriage, according to court records, but the doctor couldn't confirm whether there was a pregnancy or miscarriage.

She texted David Coots about the pills, and he allegedly said they were Misoprostol pills, brand name Cytotec, which cause miscarriage. He later offered her money, and at one point allegedly sent her $2,000, which she sent back.

Melissa Coots texted the woman on Feb. 1 and said she wanted to talk. They spoke that day outside the woman's house, and Melissa Coots said she wanted to see a hospital report. The woman said she wasn't going to share it with her.

Melissa Coots told the woman she had been to her house several times that week and once with her husband, according to court documents. The woman then took her 7-year-old daughter to stay at a hotel with her.

Defense, Melissa Coots address the court

Melissa Coots' defense attorney, Philip Petersen of the Renton-based law firm Petersen and Su, told the court the case was probably a "nightmare situation" for everyone involved.

He said only a month after his client had her fifth child, she found out her husband had been having a months-long affair, and she didn't believe the answers she was getting from him were truthful.

Petersen said Melissa Coots went to the victim's home to try to get some information out of desperation.

"Unfortunately, that conversation was not recorded," Petersen said. "We'll never truly know the contents of the conversation."

The attorney said Melissa Coots had accepted responsibility for her actions, and he said the case had torn apart her family.

Melissa Coots then stood to speak, stating that the case was the worst thing that has happened in her life. She became emotional as she spoke, telling the judge that the offense had occurred in the midst of postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress.


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