Oklahoma judge who spared child rapist prison seeks new term
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge who approved probation for a man who admitted raping a 13-year-old Texas girl at a church camp is seeking four more years on the bench.
Marshall County District Judge Wallace Coppedge filed to run Wednesday, The Oklahoman reported.
Coppedge has been sharply criticized for accepting the plea deal for Benjamin Petty, 37. The prosecutor, David Pyle, who negotiated the deal and resigned in February, said his decision to allow probation was in part due to Petty being legally blind.
Petty was sentenced in January to 15 years’ probation after pleading guilty to first-degree rape and other charges.
Investigators said Petty attacked the girl in 2016 at the Falls Creek church camp, where Petty was a cook. They said Petty tied a rope around the girl’s wrists, raped her and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone.
An online petition is calling for Coppedge’s immediate removal from the bench for a “dangerously lenient sentence.”
“Shame on this judge. Very sad,” one woman wrote on the petition Tuesday.
Coppedge hears cases in five southern Oklahoma counties and became a judge seven years ago. He’ll automatically get the four years unless he draws an opponent by Friday.
He didn’t reply to the paper’s phone calls seeking comment.
This version of the story corrects the spelling of Petty in the 5th paragraph.