No Prison Time for Man Who Raped Teen at Church Camp

Benjamin Petty sentenced to 15 years probation
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2018 4:24 PM CST
Benjamin Petty   (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

(Newser) – Benjamin Petty, a cook at a Baptist church camp in Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to tying up a 13-year-old camper, raping her, sodomizing her, and threatening her if she told anyone, the Oklahoman reports. Despite pleading guilty to three felonies, Petty was sentenced to 15 years probation with no prison time earlier this month. While Petty's attorney says his client "certainly is being punished"—he must wear an ankle monitor for 24 months and register as a sex offender—others find the sentence issued by Judge Wallace Coppedge on Jan. 19 lacking, according to the AP. "Failure to hold perpetrators accountable ... sends the wrong message to victims of crime," says the executive director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Assistant district attorney David Pyle says he didn't push for prison time because of the state of Petty's vision. "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," he says. "The plea was negotiated with their permission." The victim's family has filed a civil suit against three churches involved in the camp—the largest youth camp in the US—alleging they didn't run background checks, KFOR reports. In the civil case, one of the churches is pushing for the victim's "prior history of voluntary sexual activity" to be introduced. An attorney for the victim says they "are saddened to see that the church has stooped to victim-blaming." (Read more rape stories.)

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