Call for the Removal of Judge Who Sentenced Rapist to Just Probation

When a man ties up and rapes a thirteen-year-old girl and then threatens to harm her further if she tells anyone, you’d expect that this man would wind up spending a lot of time in jail. That’s not what happened to Oklahoma resident Benjamin Lawrence Petty, however. He gets to skip prison altogether and instead has been sentenced to 15 years of probation.

No judge presiding over this crime – which is heinous in a number of ways – should have signed off on that kind of sentence. That’s why tens of thousands of Care2 members are signing this petition to demand that Judge Wallace Coppedge lose his job for allowing such a lenient sentence.

Petty is legally blind, which was used as an excuse why he wouldn’t/shouldn’t end up with jail time. Still the idea that a judge or jury should pity a man capable of doing that to a minor, at church camp no less, exhibits not only poor judgment but an ableist mentality that a visually impaired person already has such a lousy life that prison isn’t warranted.

The prosecution assured the media that the family of the victim agreed to the plea deal, and it was part of an attempt to not require the family to travel to another state to testify in court. However, the family has since said that it was the only option offered by the prosecution, and that they gladly would have traveled wherever, noting that they did attend the preliminary hearings.

Judge Coppedge insists that he wouldn’t have agreed to the sentence himself if he wasn’t under the impression that the family was onboard. However, a court transcript shows that Coppedge interrupted the family lawyer’s explanation for how the family felt for the sake of expediency, even though that answer may very well have revealed that they thought the proposed sentence was far too soft.

Make no mistake – Coppedge has the discretion to dismiss the prosecution’s deal when he feels it’s inappropriate. Surely, this occasion was one where he could consider it a miscarriage of justice to let a child rapist off the hook with just probation.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney David Pyle swears the deal he negotiated occurred with the victim in mind. He wanted to avoid trial because, “It’s a traumatic experience and the fewer amount of times she has to testify is better for her.” Alas, that does nothing to safeguard the other young girls who may be victimized by this predator.

Take Action

Facing backlash for his own leniency in negotiating the deal, Pyle has already resigned from his job. That’s a good start, but it’s time to show judges everywhere that rape sentences must be taken seriously, by holding Coppedge accountable for his terrible judgment.

Do your part to push Judge Coppedge out by signing the popular Care2 petition. Ask the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints and Oklahoma Bar Association to punish a man who allows a rapist off with a relative slap on the wrist.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

69 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M3 days ago

Thank you

SEND
KimJ M
KimJ M3 days ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M3 days ago

Already signed

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R3 days ago

Thank you for posting.

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Chad A
Chad A6 days ago

Signed. Sick.

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 days ago

signed, ty

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Veronica D
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica D10 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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David Anderson
David Anderson11 days ago

Signed, but I would personally lean toward making eunuchs out of the rapist, the prosecutor, and the judge for this insult to justice.

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