Benjamin Petty raped the 13-year-old girl at a church camp in Oklahoma

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 31, 2018 05:37 PM

A man who raped a 13-year-old girl at an Oklahoma church camp received a sentence of probation after accepting a plea deal, according to multiple reports.

Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, was a cook at Falls Creek Baptist church camp when he raped the girl in the summer of 2016. Afterwards, he threatened to physically harm the girl if she told anyone what happened, according to KFOR4.

On Jan. 19, Petty was sentenced to 15 years probation after pleading guilty to felony charges of first-degree rape, forcible sodomy and rape by an instrumentation, according to the station.

The deal was negotiated by Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle, who told The Oklahoman that Petty’s being “legally blind” played a major factor in his decision to not send him to prison.

“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, according to the paper. “The plea was negotiated with their permission.”

Benjamin Lawrence Petty

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Petty is required to wear an ankle monitor for two years and register as a sex offender, according to The Oklahoman.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Murray County District Attorney Craig Ladd said Petty’s negotiated plea was not presented to him before it was entered in court.

In June 2016, the girl attended the Baptist camp with her church group from Terrell, Texas. During this time, Petty was working as a cook, hired by The Country Estates Baptist Church of Midwest City.

The girl’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against The County Estates Baptist Church, The First Baptist Church of Terrell and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence, according to KFOR4. The family’s attorney, Bruce Robertson, could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.

Midwest City’s Pastor Steve Holland tells PEOPLE, “We think this whole situation is a tragic situation and we’re heartbroken by the fact that it even happened and the victim has to go through this.”

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The civil lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 from each defendant, KFOR4 reports. The First Baptist Church of Terrell declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday while The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma released the following statement to PEOPLE:

“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.”