Blind Man Avoids Jail Time After Raping Teenage Girl - Opposing Views

Blind Man Avoids Jail Time After Raping Teenage Girl

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An Oklahoma man will not be serving any prison time after raping a 13-year-old girl -- and the reason is because he is legally blind.

Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, pleaded guilty to raping the teen girl in 2016 at the Falls Creek church camp in southern Oklahoma, the Daily Mail reported.

Investigators said Petty tied a rope around the victim's wrists, sexually assaulted her and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone. He was a cook at the camp.

Despite pleading guilty to felony counts of first-degree rape, rape by instrumentation and forcible sodomy, Petty received three suspended 15-year prison sentences after prosecutors cited his disability.

A plea deal was reached to spare Petty of any prison time. He will instead be placed on probation, and will be forced to wear an ankle monitor for 24 months. He will also be forced to register as a sex offender and seek treatment.

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Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle negotiated the plea deal, News OK reported.

"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 explained. "The plea was negotiated with their permission."

But Candida Manion, executive director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said Petty's sentence sends the wrong message. The nonprofit organization reportedly works to prevent and ultimately end sexual and domestic violence.

"Failure to hold perpetrators accountable regardless of their disabilities sends the wrong message to victims of crime," Manion said in a statement.

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Manion added that monitoring systems do little to prevent sexual assault, and that the agencies who monitor sex offenders lack the proper resources to do their jobs effectively.

"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.

Attorney Bruce Robertson said the victim's family's consent to the plea deal came after "the family was 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."

According to documents, Petty has no criminal history or prior felony convictions.

Murray County District Attorney Craig Ladd said he was not aware of the details regarding Petty's plea deal before it was entered in court.

"I didn't authorize it," Ladd said, adding that he will decide whether or not to take any further action after reviewing the investigative reports regarding the case.

Sources: Daily Mail, News OK / Featured Image: Patrick Feller/Flickr / Embedded Images: Oklahoma Department of Corrections and Facebook via Daily Mail

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