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Thousands sign petition demanding removal of Oklahoma judge who let several child rapists off without prison

March 8, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Thousands sign petition demanding removal of Oklahoma judge who let several child rapists off without prison

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Outrage grows over Oklahoma judge who allowed several child rapists avoid prison time

An Oklahoma judge who faced extensive criticism for permitting a church camp rapist to walk away with only probation earlier this year has allowed other child rapists to walk free, avoiding prison time.

Reports indicate that on seven other occasions, Marshall County District Judge Wallace Coppedge agreed to let sex offenders go free without jail sentences during the seven years he presided as a judge.

According to KFOR. most of the cases involved the rapes of children and the outcomes were associated with issues that appeared after the cases were filed in court.

“The explanations are that often cases change over time,” Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President Al Hoch said to The Oklahoman in February.

Hoch noted that prosecutors might secure the deals because witnesses would decline to testify or “additional evidence becomes available and renders a case that is less appealing to a jury.”

But judges don’t always have to accept the plea agreements, and several individuals have told The Oklahoman that they would never contemplate just probation for a self-admitted child rapist.

In other cases decided by a jury, a plea deal or by choosing the punishment himself, Coppedge has sent these offenders to prison.

Benjamin Petty was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl at a church camp.

Benjamin Petty was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl at a church camp.

Benjamin L. Petty, a cook at the Falls Creek camp, entered a guilty plea on charges that he raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl in 2016 and was sentenced by Coppedge to 15 years of probation. The man will also be required to register as an aggravated sex offender and has to wear an ankle monitor for two years.

The victim’s lawyer said the family was satisfied with the plea.

“The family consented to the plea based on the representation by [David] Pyle that Petty would not serve meaningful time in prison due to his medical conditions,” Bruce Robertson, the victim’s lwyer, told KFOR. “The family was not provided any other alternative.”

However, Pyle, who is the prosecutor who reached that agreement, was forced to quit because he did not discuss with his boss prior.

“I strongly disagree with the lenient manner in which the Petty case in Murray County was prosecuted in many respects,” District Attorney Craig Ladd said in late January.

“Had I been kept apprised, I would have had authority to stop the offer from being extended and would have done so,” Ladd added.

Since then, over 100,000 people have signed a petition online demanding that Coppedge’s punishment be changed, with one person referring the verdict as “sheer insanity.”

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