Benjamin Lawrence Petty has been sentenced to 15 years of probation after negotiating a guilty plea on charges of first-degree rape, forcible sodomy and rape by instrumentation, reported NewsOK. All three charges are felonies.
In June of 2016, Petty, 36, had been working as a cook at a Baptist church camp when he bound a 13-year-old girl with rope, raped her and then threatened her with physical violence if she told anyone about the assault.
Petty is "legally blind," and this apparently had a huge effect on the plea deal, which was negotiated by Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle.
"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."
As part of Petty's probation, he will be required to wear an ankle monitor for 24 months, register as a sex offender and obtain treatment. Petty reportedly had no prior felony convictions.
"The family was told by the district attorney's office that the rapist would not serve any meaningful prison time due to his medical conditions," said Bruce Robertson, an attorney representing the victim in a civil case regarding the incident.
According to NewsOK, The First Baptist Church of Terrell is named as a defendant in that lawsuit along with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and The Country Estates Baptist Church.
"Based on this representation, the family did not object to the probationary sentence," Robertson continued. "As a result of the plea, Benjamin Petty has been convicted of three felonies resulting from this incident, in which he bound and raped a 13-year-old, and is required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life, providing at least some protection for other potential victims."
In the civil case, attorneys are putting pressure on the victim to be interviewed about her "prior history of voluntary sexual activity," but a judge has questioned the purpose of such an inquiry.
"I don't think it has any — even a scintilla of any relevance to anything," said Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Timmons.
"We are saddened to see that the church has stooped to victim-blaming," Robertson said. "While we will not publicly debate the consensual sexual history, if any, of our teenage client, we fail to understand how the church can conceivably argue that any female's consensual relations are relevant to the trauma suffered as the result of a horrific, violent rape. The church has improperly used information in its motion which we believe is in violation of the court's protective order and we will not comment further at this time."
The Baptist General Convention and churches who run the camp are also being sued for negligence, reported NewsOK.
[Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections]