Former Mannford Resident Bound Over For Trial In Child Sex Abuse Case
MANNFORD, Oklahoma - A former Mannford resident accused of inappropriate behavior toward minors was bound over for trial this week after a Creek County judge heard testimony from two teenage boys.
Bryce Freeman Catlett, 39, now of Preston, was charged in August 2012 with two counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16. His trial will begin in May, according to court records.
He is free on $100,000 bond.
Mannford Police Chief Lucky Miller said the two boys, who were both frightened, came forward days apart. The second one received a dose of courage after knowing his friend already went to the authorities, Miller said.
"Each crime is really important, no matter what it is," Miller said. "But when it involves a child -- an innocent, defenseless child that can't properly consent -- you don't want it to happen again. You want to get someone in jail so you know the victims and other kids are safe."
Last July, the first teen, then 14, was brought to MPD by his mother. He told police that, on two occasions, Catlett touched him inappropriately while he was in bed.
The boy said the first incident happened about midnight on April 19, 2012, when Catlett was lying down next to him and put his hand down his shorts and fondled him, according to an affidavit filed in Creek County. The teen reportedly told police that he removed Catlett's hand from his shorts and went into another room.
The second incident, according to the boy's interview with police, happened on July 20. Catlett was lying next to the teen, put his arm around him and held his hand by interlocking fingers, documents say.
When asked by police if he ever touched the boy, Catlett reportedly said, "not that he knew of and he was intoxicated most of the time."
When pressed, Catlett later told police, "I'll tell you what happened," and stated he and others had been at the lake drinking and went to an acquaintance's house afterward. Catlett said he was in the boy's bed and "his hand accidentally slipped down below (the boy's) waist and touched his genital area outside his clothing," the affidavit says.
In another interview, Catlett admitted to police he did, in fact, put his hand down the boy's shorts and touched his privates.
The second alleged victim told police that on July 5, Catlett asked him and some of his soccer teammates to go swimming at Mannford Lake. Catlett swam up to the boy and grabbed his genitals, the boy said, according to an affidavit. The teen reportedly told police he swam away, but Catlett kept swimming toward him the rest of the trip. He told police he "never felt so scared or uncomfortable in his life," and he was too frightened to tell anyone about it until his friend came forward with similar accusations, documents say.
Miller said he interviewed Catlett, who, again, reportedly "admitted some guilt, but wouldn't admit to the whole thing."
"We immediately felt like time was of the essence and requested an [expedited] arrest warrant," Miller said. "We felt like it was important to get him off the streets to protect the victims and other possible victims."
Miller said once the warrant was issued, he contacted Cimarron Telephone in Mannford, where Catlett was employed as an installer. Managers told him Catlett was on a service call to a residence and where to find him.
"I just got lucky that as I was headed in that direction, he pulled up to the same intersection I did," Miller said."
Catlett was arrested on July 24, just four days after the first allegations surfaced. He bonded out Aug. 5 and was promptly re-arrested on charges concerning the second boy, Miller said.
A spokesperson with Cim-Tel said Catlett was terminated on July 25 and is no longer associated with the company. Catlett is a former Marine and served in Iraq.
After charges were filed, he moved from Mannford to Preston, court records indicate.
If convicted, Catlett could be punished by no more than five years in the state penitentiary, and as a Level-3 sex offender, have to register for life with address verification every three months.