Prosecutor Quits After No-Prison Plea Deal With Child Rapist

OKLAHOMA CITY – Less than two weeks after an admitted child rapist was sentenced to probation, the Oklahoma prosecutor who offered him a plea deal to avoid prison time stepped down.

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.

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A judge reportedly handed down the sentence on Jan. 19, and soon after, Pyle was no longer in office. 

"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," Pyle's boss, District Attorney Craig Ladd, told Crimesider in a statement.

CBS affiliate KWTV reports that documents say Petty, who is reportedly legally blind, was brought to Falls Creek Church Camp in rural south central Oklahoma as a cook by Country Estates Church of Midwest City. It is at the camp that, according to court documents, he tied up and raped a 13-year-old who was there with a group from the First Baptist Church of Terrell, Texas in June 2016. 

According to its website, Falls Creek hosts "the largest youth camp in the world." 

Then-ADA Pyle told The Oklahoman that he sought a plea deal in part because Petty is legally blind, and the victim and her family live out of state and didn't want to travel back and forth to Oklahoma. 

The attorney for the victim's family, however, told the newspaper a different story. Bruce Robertson said that the family was told by the prosecutor that Petty's "medical condition" meant he wouldn't serve significant prison time, and they were never presented with any alternative to the sentence.

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

But Ladd objected. Ladd told CBS News in an email that he was not made aware of the deal until it was too late to make a change.

"Had I been kept apprised, I certainly would have had the authority to stop the offer from being extended and I would have done so," said Ladd. 

Asked whether he thought no prison time was an appropriate sentence for the rape of a child he said, "No, which is why the assistant district attorney who made the plea deal no longer works at the office." 

Ladd called Pyle's rationale for the deal "uncompelling."

"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," said Ladd. "There is no exception for defendants who happen to be legally blind to my knowledge."

Judge Wallace Coppedge, who imposed the prosecution's recommended sentence on Petty, did not return CBS News' call for comment on the case.

KWTV reports that the victim's family has filed lawsuits against the Falls Creek, First Baptist Church of Terrell, and Country Estates Baptist Church. The lawsuits reportedly claim that Petty "groomed" the girl for three days like a "textbook" pedophile and eventually pulled the her into his room, tied her up and raped her.

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