OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma man who pleaded guilty to brutally raping a 13-year-old girl at a church camp was sentenced to 15 years probation.
In the summer of 2016, a 13-year-old girl said she was raped by Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, while she was at Falls Creek.
Petty was reportedly a cook at the church camp.
Court documents show that the victim says that Petty told her he was going to show her how to perform tricks on a device he brought to the camp when he suddenly 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,” the document states.
He was later arrested and charged with forcible sodomy, first-degree rape, and rape by instrumentation.
Last week, Petty, of Spencer, pleaded guilty to the three felonies as part of a plea deal, NewsOK reports.
Court records show Petty received three 15-year suspended sentences in exchange for his guilty plea, all of which will run concurrently.
Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, who negotiated the guilty plea deal, told NewsOK that Petty is “legally blind” which was a major factor in his decision not to insist on prison time.
“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. “The plea was negotiated with their permission.”
Pyle also said that Petty was legally blind at the time of the rape.
Last year, the girl’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the church that brought her to the camp from Terrell, Texas, along with County Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, which brought Petty to the camp, and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The victim’s family says all of the organizations failed to perform background checks, which may have protected the teen.
“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. 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,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma released the following statement to News 4:
“Although we have no association with Mr. Petty, as he was not an employee or volunteer of Falls Creek, we absolutely abhor his behavior toward the victim in this case. We are continuing to pray for the victim and family, as well as everyone impacted by this.”
–Brian Hobbs, BGCO Communications Director