No Prison Time For ‘Legally Blind’ Man Who Raped 13-Year-Old

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The criminal justice system failed a teen victim of a brutal rape who was attacked by a cook at a church camp she was attending in the summer of 2016.

A man who pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl will serve no prison time, despite being convicted of three felonies.

Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, of Spencer, Oklahoma, has been sentenced to 15 years of probation. He is also required to wear an ankle monitor for 24 months, register as a sex offender, and receive treatment. This light punishment is the result of an unusual plea deal based on the fact that Petty is “legally blind,” according to NewsOK.

His young victim was attending Falls Creek church camp when the 2016 incident occurred. Petty had been brought in to work at the camp as a cook. He tied rope around the girl’s wrists, raped her, sodomized her, and proceeded to threaten her with physical harm if she told anyone.

District Judge Wallace Coppedge sentenced Petty earlier this month after he accepted the guilty plea to first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, and rape by instrumentation.

"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," said Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, who negotiated the guilty plea. "The plea was negotiated with their permission."

For anyone who may be wondering why on Earth the girl’s family would accept such a lax punishment for the rapist, Bruce Robertson — an attorney helping to represent the victim’s interests in a civil case — said they consented to the plea after they were “told by the district attorney’s office that the rapist would not serve any meaningful prison time due to his medical conditions.”

"Based on this representation, the family did not object to the probationary sentence," Robertson said. "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."

The victim attended the church camp with a group from Terrell, Texas, and the rapist was brought in to work there by The Country Estates Baptist Church of Midwest City. Both organizations are named as defendants in the civil lawsuit along with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

However, at least one of the religious organizations has shamelessly resorted to victim-blaming in their defense. The Midwest City church’s attorneys have a pending request to question the victim about her “prior history of voluntary sexual activity.”

Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Timmons already rejected the request, asserting that she doesn’t “think it has any — even a scintilla of any relevance to anything.” But the church’s attorneys are asking her to reconsider, maintaining that the victim bragged to other campers about being sexually active, speaking with them about “her sexual activities and history with her then-boyfriend, including her fear that she might be pregnant with her boyfriend’s child.”

The attorneys insist that her sexual history and purported pregnancy scare is relevant because it could have “contributed to her physical and emotional damages.”

Attorneys for the victim argue that the rape, alone, is the cause of the physical, emotional, and psychological damages the young teen endured.

"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 of Oklahoma, which owns and operates Falls Creek, is being accused in the suit of negligence based on the poor job they did of vetting employees as well as failing to effectively supervise sponsors and camp participants and failing to train them on how to identify and avoid predators.

This is, obviously, a very unique case as Petty had no prior felony convictions and suffers from a serious medical condition. However, this crime was heinous and severe enough to deserve prison time. Additionally, he was able to see well enough to brutally rape and threaten his victim, which means his poor eyesight must not pose too much of a problem.   

The criminal justice system failed this young girl, but we can only hope that by spreading awareness to this monster's crime and identity that he won't be able to go anywhere without being recognized as the sick rapist he is, prompting girls and women to steer clear of him if they ever find themselves in his presence. 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Pixabay, amayaeguizabal

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