Assistant district attorney resigns amid controversial plea deal
The Murray County prosecutor who gave an admitted child rapist probation earlier this month, resigned Wednesday.
"We feel betrayed, I believe," Sulphur resident Bobby McKinney said. "No child molester should be out on the streets."
The outrage seems universal in Sulphur.
"I do feel like the 15 years of probation is too light," Another resident, McKayla Arrington, said. "Even though it is 15 years, what happened was wrong, and blind or not, you shouldn't just get 15 years."
Benjamin Petty admitted he tied up and raped a 13-year-old at Falls Creek Church camp in 2016. Prosecutor David Pyle
Pyle's boss, District Attorney Craig Ladd, declined our request for an on camera interview, but said he disagreed with the "lenient manner" in which the case was prosecuted. After meeting with Ladd on Wednesday, Pyle resigned.
"I don't think anybody in our community is very happy about him making a deal, and not serving any time." McKinney said.
On more than one occasion, Pyle even denied KXII access to public records pertaining to violent crimes in Murray County, records that are easily available in other counties. In each case, Pyle would cite concern for the victims as his reasoning for denial; even when explained our station's policy is to not identify victims of sexual assaults.
Meanwhile, the girl's family has filed a civil suit, claiming Petty "groomed" the girl for 3 days like a "textbook" pedophile and eventually pulled the 13-year-old girl into his room, tied her up and raped her.
Pyle said one factor in the plea deal was that Petty is legally blind, and he also wanted to spare the out-of-state victim the hassle of having to testify.
Bruce Robertson, attorney for the victim and her family in the civil lawsuit, said the family was willing to travel to appear in court, and were never provided "any other alternative" to the plea deal to which the family eventually consented.
“Contrary to statements made by the Murray County Assistant District Attorney, David Pyle, our client and her family never expressed reservations about traveling to Oklahoma for the criminal case against Benjamin Petty," Robertson said in a statement to News 12. "In fact, our client traveled to Oklahoma and was present in the courthouse on April 10, 2017, for the preliminary hearing and anticipated testifying at trial. Further, the family consented to the plea agreement based on the representation by Mr. Pyle that Petty would not serve meaningful time in prison due to his medical conditions. The family was not provided any other alternative.”
Ladd says he can't review every plea deal his prosecutors make, but he "would have greatly preferred to" review this one.
"It's frustrating," McKinney said. "He (Pyle) should have to be there to answer for the decisions he made for our town."
Ladd said Assistant District Attorney Tim Burson will be assigned to cover Murray County beginning Monday.
David Pyle resigned his position as Murray County Assistant District Attorney on Wednesday, according to District Attorney Craig Ladd.
Pyle was responsible for a plea deal where Benjamin Petty pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old Texas girl at a Murray County church camp and was given 15 years probation.
The plea deal, which was made public on Tuesday, quickly made national news because Pyle was quoted, saying that Petty is legally blind and that was a major factor in his not insisting on prison time.
Pyle also said another factor in the sentencing was that he and the girl's parents did not want to have the victim keep testifying about what happened.
Court documents stated that Petty tied up the girl, raped her, then threatened he would hurt her if she told anyone about the incident.
Ladd released a statement Wednesday, which read in part, "I want it to be known that I strongly disagree with the lenient manner in which the Benjamin Petty case in Murray County was prosecuted in many respects. The manner in which that case was prosecuted does not reflect my thoughts or position on how rapists, especially those who prey on children, should be dealt with in the criminal justice system."
Under the terms of his probation, Petty is required to wear an ankle monitor for 24 months, register as a sex offender and obtain treatment.
In the release, Ladd also stated that because the defendant was sentenced, jeopardy had attached, and "therefore I cannot legally undo what has been done."
Ladd said that Assistant District Attorney Tim Burson will be assigned to cover Murray County beginning Monday.