A 13-year-old girl was raped at her church camp in 2016. She was tied up and raped by the camp’s cook, Benjamin Lawrence Petty. Petty pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, and rape by instrumentation. He was recently sentenced but will face absolutely no jail time.
By pleading guilty, Petty got a hell of a deal. He will be under house arrest for two years, will be on probation for 15 years, and he will have to register as a sex offender. The reason behind the light sentence falls into the lap of the prosecutor, David Pyle. Pyle’s reasoning was that Petty, the rapist, is legally blind.
Being legally blind didn’t prevent him from raping that girl.
Pyle has now resigned as a prosecutor. He left as backlash started coming in over his decision to make such a lenient plea deal.
Even though Petty pled guilty in January, there is renewed outrage over the case. It was revealed that the judge in the case, District Judge Wallace Coppedge, had the discretion to reject the plea deal, but let the negotiated sentence suffice. A legally blind man who raped a young girl will serve no jail time because he’s … legally blind.
There is an online petition to remove Coppedge from the bench. To date, it has over 102,000 signatures. This isn’t the first time he has gone easy on sex offenders. The Oklahoman published a review of court cases presided over by Coppedge on Sunday. The honorable judge has allowed confessed child rapists and convicted pedophiles to avoid jail time at least seven other times in the past.
An Oklahoma lawmaker filed a resolution in the House seeking to remove Coppedge, though it has yet to be voted on. The vote is on hold because another lawmaker felt as though there were more pressing matters in Oklahoma.
There may be pressing matters in Oklahoma, but they do not negate the fact that a judge is letting rapists and pedophiles off with a slap on the wrist repeatedly. It sends the message that these victims do not matter – that the justice system will favor the criminals because it’s just easier sometimes.