Sulphur, OK – An assistant district attorney resigned on Wednesday, after he offered a child rapist a plea agreement that resulted in no prison time, because the defendant is “legally blind.”
According to court documents, Benjamin Petty, 36, tied a rope around the hands of a 13-year-old girl at a church camp where he worked as a cook in 2016, then brutally raped and sodomized her before he threatened to harm her if she told anyone what he had done, The Oklahoman reported.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, and rape by instrumentation on Jan. 19.
Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle negotiated a plea agreement that resulted in Petty, who was also legally blind when he committed the rape, being sentenced to 15 years on probation.
"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 family says that's bullshit.
The family’s attorney, Bruce Robertson, said that the family consented to the plea deal only after Pyle assured them that Petty’s “medical condition” would result in no meaningful prison time.
“Contrary to statements made by Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, our client and her family never expressed reservations about traveling to Oklahoma for the criminal case against Benjamin Petty,” Robertson said in a written statement, according to The Ada News.
“Further, the family consented to the plea agreement based on the representation by Mr. Pyle that Petty would not serve meaningful time in prison due to his medical conditions. The family was not provided any other alternative,” Robertson wrote.
In addition to the term of probation, the court required that Petty wear an ankle monitor for two years. He must also register as a sex offender, and was ordered to participate in treatment.
Pyle’s former boss, District Attorney Craig Ladd, said he was unaware of the plea agreement before it was imposed by the court.
“I want it to be known that I strongly disagree with the lenient manner in which the Benjamin Petty case in Murray County was prosecuted in many respects,” he told The Ada News. “The manner in which that case was prosecuted does not reflect my thoughts or position on how rapists, especially those who prey on children, should be dealt with in the criminal justice system.”
In an email to CBS News, Ladd said that Pyle’s justifications for the lenient sentence were “uncompelling.”
"Which is why the assistant district attorney who made the plea deal no longer works at the office,” Ladd said.
"Under Oklahoma law, an offender found guilty of offenses of this nature are required to serve 85 percent of their sentences before being considered for parole. There is no exception for defendants who happen to be legally blind to my knowledge,” he said.
The victim’s family’s lawsuits against the Falls Creek church camp, the First Baptist Church of Terrell, and Country Estates Baptist Church were still pending, CBS News reported.