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FORMER trooper pleads no contest to reduced charges

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper faces formal sentencing in October after pleading no contest Monday to reduced charges of molesting two teen-age girls.

Ottawa County prosecutors charged James Carl Pischel, 50, last year with second-degree rape by instrumentation, lewd molestation of a child, sodomy and indecent exposure after they reopened a 1998 case.

Prosecutors reduced the charges to two counts of assault with intent to commit a felony during Monday's hearing. The state is recommending two five-year deferred sentences to run concurrently.

Pischel remains free on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court Oct. 1 for sentencing.

During a preliminary hearing in October, Ottawa County authorities said that between 1995 and 1998, Pischel fondled both girls and exposed himself and forcibly performed oral sex on one teen.

The defense claimed the girls had fabricated the accusations against Pischel. Both girls are now living in another part of the state.

Pischel, a 26-year patrol veteran, resigned recently. He was named Trooper of the Year by the Concerned Oklahomans for Highway Patrol Society in 1999 for his role in apprehending a Missouri man.

Earlier in his career, however, Pischel was involved in a pursuit that left the wife and child of Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel dead.

Whetsel's wife, Darlene, 25, and their daughter, Rebecca, 2, died when Pischel's patrol car hit the family vehicle outside Oklahoma City in 1980.

The Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission overturned his firing and gave him a 75-day suspension. An Oklahoma County jury deadlocked on two misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide.

Pischel also was suspended for three days in 1999 after a February 1998 accident that occurred while he was test-driving a car at 100 mph on a two-way highway near Miami. He was on duty and in uniform at the time of the accident.

That same year, Whetsel called Pischel ``an embarrassment to law enforcement who should not be in law enforcement.''
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