No Move To Oust Okla. Judge Who Approved Probation For Child Rapist

OKLAHOMA CITY (CBS News) — An Oklahoma lawmaker isn’t pushing for a vote on a resolution to oust a judge who approved probation for a man who admitted raping a 13-year-old Texas girl at a church camp in southern Oklahoma.

Republican Rep. Mike Ritze tells The Oklahoman newspaper he’s putting the resolution on hold so lawmakers can focus on other issues, including the state budget.

The resolution wouldn’t be legally binding. But it asks the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary to begin proceedings to remove District Judge Wallace Coppedge.

It says Coppedge neglected his duty in accepting a plea agreement with Benjamin Petty, who was sentenced last month to 15 years’ probation after pleading guilty to the 2016 attack. Coppedge hasn’t commented on the case.

The prosecutor in the case says he didn’t seek prison time because Petty is legally blind. He has since resigned amid widespread backlash.

According to The Oklahoman, assistant district attorney David Pyle recommended Benjamin Petty be sentenced to 15 years probation in exchange for the 36-year-old’s guilty plea to first-degree rape, forcible sodomy and rape by instrumentation, all felonies. Petty was required to register as a sex offender as a part of the deal.

Pyle’s boss, District Attorney Craig Ladd, told Crimesider in a statement Feb.1 that he was not made aware of the deal until it was too late to make a change.

“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,” Ladd said.