In a state where at least 52 people are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for drug convictions, a man will walk free after he confessed to brutally raping a 13-year-old girl. Yes, really.
Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, pleaded guilty to felony charges of forcible sodomy, first-degree rape, and rape by instrumentation after he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl while working as a cook at a church camp. Instead of facing years in prison, Petty was sentenced to 15 years of probation.
Despite the fact that Petty used ropes to secure the child’s wrists so that she could not leave, raped her, and then threatened her with physical harm if she told anyone what he had done, Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle told NewsOK that he justified the lack of prison time in the plea deal because Petty is “legally blind.”
“The big thing is Mr. Petty is legally blind and the parents (of the victim) live out of state and this little girl lives out of state and didn’t want to make all the travels back and forth,” Pyle said. “The plea was negotiated with their permission.”
The assault occurred in the summer of 2016 while the girl was visiting a church camp at Falls Creek. KFOR News reported that, according to court documents, Petty first isolated the girl from the group and then pulled her into his cabin and assaulted her.
“Petty closed the door to his bedroom, tied [victim’s] hands behind her back, pulled down her jeans, pushed her face down on his bed, and violently raped and sodomized her,” the document states.
A civil lawsuit filed by the victim’s family accused the church in Terrell, Texas, that brought the girl to the camp, Country Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, of failing to conduct proper background checks on the people who were allowed direct access to the children at the camp.
“Minimal effort on the part of the Defendants—before and/or during the camp—would have revealed that Petty was not an appropriate adult candidate to bring to, or remain at, the camp. In fact, Petty was a convicted criminal and it was readily apparent that he was involved in a lifestyle contrary and repugnant to the values espoused by the BGCO, Country Estates, Terrell and Falls Creek.”
While it may seem blatantly obvious that a 36-year-old man should be held accountable for the sexual encounters he has with a 13-year-old girl, even if he is “legally blind,” the Midwest Church does not see it that way. NewsOK reported that the church’s attorneys are now requesting to question the rape victim about her “prior history of voluntary sexual activity.”
Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Timmons rejected the initial request, but the attorneys have continued to push back against it, insisting that the young girl told other children at the camp about “her sexual activities and history with her then-boyfriend, including her fear that she might be pregnant with her boyfriend’s child.”
As Benjamin Petty is spared jail, after pleading guiding to brutally raping a 13-year-old girl, there are a number of Oklahoma residents who are spending their lives in prison without the possibility of parole for the convictions related to drugs.
An April 2017 report from NewsOK noted that while Gov. Mary Fallin has commuted several sentences for nonviolent offenders, “There are still 52 inmates in Oklahoma serving life without parole for drug offenses, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections inmate database.”
While nonviolent offenders are spending their lives in prison after many of them were caught possessing a plant, a violent child rapist is free to go. As one Twitter user wrote, “Being legally blind means you don’t have to go to jail if you brutally rape a teen? Seriously? The only one blind in this judgment is the prosecutor who let him get probation instead.”
Being legally blind means you don't have to go to jail if you brutally rape a teen? Seriously? The only one blind in this judgement is the prosecutor who let him get probation instead https://t.co/HqzF9o0HfS
— Dee Parsons (@wartwatch) January 31, 2018