An Oklahoma prosecutor who punished an admitted child rapist with probation has resigned, according to local media reports.
David Pyle, assistant district attorney for Murray County in Oklahoma, resigned on Wednesday, reported KXII in Sherman, Texas, which has been following the case.
Pyle was responsible for a plea deal in which Benjamin Petty, 36, received 15 years probation after pleading guilty to raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old Texas girl at a church camp in Murray County in 2016.
The deal, which was made public on Tuesday, whipped up outrage close to home and nationally.
Petty is legally blind, and Pyle had said his medical condition was a factor in the plea deal.
“I don’t think anybody in our community is very happy about him making a deal, and not serving any time,” Murray County District Attorney Craig Ladd told the TV station.
Pyle resigned after meeting with Ladd, his boss, on Wednesday, KXII reported. Ladd did not like, or approve, the plea deal.
“I want it to be known that I strongly disagree with the lenient manner in which the Benjamin Petty case in Murray County was prosecuted in many respects,” Ladd said in a statement.
According to NewsOK.com, Petty, of Spencer, Okla., received suspended sentences after entering a negotiated guilty plea to three felony counts: first-degree rape, forcible sodomy and rape by instrumentation.
He was working as a cook at a Falls Creek church camp in the summer of 2016 when he raped the girl and threatened to physically hurt her if she told anyone. She was reportedly there with a group from Terrell, Texas.
Petty told her he was going to show her how to perform tricks with some kind of device he had when he suddenly pulled her into his cabin, according to court documents reviewed by KFOR in Oklahoma City.
He closed the door to his bedroom, tied the girl’s hands behind her back with rope, and violently raped and sodomized her, court documents say.
Petty, who reportedly had no prior felony convictions, received three 15-year suspended sentences in exchange for his guilty plea, all of which will run concurrently.
The deal requires to wear an ankle monitor for 24 months, register as a sex offender and undergo treatment.
Pyle said Petty was legally blind at the time of the rape.
“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,” Pyle told NewsOK earlier this week. “The plea was negotiated with their permission.”
An attorney for the victim’s family said they agreed to the plea agreement after the district attorney’s office told them Petty would not serve any meaningful prison time because of his medical condition.
But the attorney, Bruce A. Robertson, disputed what Pyle said about the family not wanting to travel back and forth from Texas to Oklahoma for a trial.
“Contrary to statements made by the Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, our client and her family never expressed reservations about traveling to Oklahoma for the criminal case against Benjamin Petty,” Robertson said in a written statement.
The girl’s family filed a civil lawsuit last year against the Texas church that took her to the camp, the church that took Petty to the camp and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The family accuses the groups of failing to do background checks that might have prevented the rape.
Attorneys for one of the churches being sued requested permission to interview the victim about her priory history of voluntary sexual activity, which a family attorney called “victim-blaming,” NewsOK reported.
“I don’t think it has any — even a scintilla of any relevance to anything.” Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Timmons said when she rejected the request.
The church’s attorneys have asked Timmons to reconsider because they claim to have talked with other campers about the girl’s “sexual activities” with her boyfriend.
The plea deal angered not only local residents, who worried about an admitted violent rapist being out on their streets, but advocates for victims of sexual assault as well.
“Failure to hold perpetrators accountable regardless of their disabilities sends the wrong message to victims of crime,” Candida Manion, executive director of the nonprofit Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, told The Associated Press.
“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.”
Ladd told KXII he can’t review every plea deal his prosecutors make, but he “would have greatly preferred” to review this one.