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Man Who Raped 13-Year-Old Receives Probation

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After pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl, an Oklahoma man received 15 years of probation.

The 13-year-old girl said 36-year-old Benjamin Lawrence Petty raped her while she was at church camp during the summer of 2016, KFOR reports.

She says Petty, who was allegedly the camp's cook, was going to teach her how to perform tricks on a device he had taken with him from home before he pulled her into his cabin.

"Petty closed the door to his bedroom, tied [victim's] hands behind her back, pulled down her jeans, pushed her face down on his bed, and violently raped and sodomized her," a court document states.

Although he was eventually charged with three felonies -- forcible sodomy, first-degree rape, and rape by instrumentation -- he did not receive prison time, WGHP reports.

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Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, who negotiated Petty's three 15-year suspended sentences in exchange for his guilty plea, explains this is because Petty can't see well.

"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 said, adding Petty was also legally blind at the time of rape. "The plea was negotiated with their permission."

News of Petty's sentence quickly sparked controversy.

"I don't care if he is blind or not," wrote one person in KFOR-TV's Facebook share of the story. "Blindness didn't stop him from raping that child, so why should it factor into his sentence. Thanks Murray county DA, for letting him go to rape and steal someone's innocence again. You should be fired for allowing that plea deal."

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In addition to pressing charges against Petty, the girl's family filed civil lawsuits against three churches for failing to perform adequate background checks.

The family took the church that brought their daughter to the camp to court. County Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, which brought Petty to the camp, and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma also faced lawsuits.

"Minimal effort on the part of the Defendants- before and/or during the camp- would have revealed that Petty was not an appropriate adult candidate to bring to, or remain at, the camp," alleges the lawsuit. "In fact, Petty was a convicted criminal and it was readily apparent that he was involved in a lifestyle contrary and repugnant to the values espoused by the BGCO, Country Estates, Terrell and Falls Creek."

Sources: KFORWGHP, KFOR-TV/Facebook / Featured Image: Joe Gratz/Flickr / Embedded Images: Connor Behan/Wikimedia Commons, Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

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