An Oklahoma man who pleaded guilty to attacking and raping a 13-year-old girl at a church camp won’t serve any jail time in the case and received a sentence of 15 years’ probation.
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Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, is legally blind and his disability is one of the reasons the judge cited for allowing Petty, who pleaded guilty in the 2016 attack at the Falls Creek church camp, to go free, according to NewsOK.
"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," Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle told NewsOK. "The plea was negotiated with their permission."
But that explanation is not going over very well with anti-crime advocates.
"Failure to hold perpetrators accountable, regardless of their disabilities, sends the wrong message to victims of crime," Candida Manion, the executive director of the nonprofit Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told The Associated Press.
District Judge Wallace Coppedge gave Petty a suspended sentence after his negotiated guilty plea on three felonies, including rape.
“There is a lack of knowledge about sexual assault within the criminal justice system, and what we know about violent offenders is that they will reoffend,” Manion said.
Officials with the district attorney’s office are reviewing the case.
The camp where the attack happened, and where Petty worked as a cook, is run by the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma and is the largest youth camp in the nation, according to the AP.