Some Outraged By Sentences For Child Rapists

Thursday, June 25th 2009, 9:44 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Convicted child rapists getting little or no time behind bars has some raising eyebrows.  A recent case in McAlester outraged many Americans when a man accused of raping a child was sentenced to just one year in prison.  The News On 6 has discovered another case where a Muskogee man got no time behind bars. 

According to child advocates, it happens all the time.

Pittsburg County Judge Thomas Bartheld made national headlines when he sentenced David Earls to just one year behind bars.  Earls pled no contest to charges he raped a 5-year-old girl.  Oklahoma lawmakers called for the judge's dismissal.

06/19/2009 Related Story: Daughter Says Oklahoma Rapist Deserves Life Sentence

"In Oklahoma, when somebody commits this crime on a 5 or 6 year old and only give them a year, it really needs to be looked into. What are we doing in our court system?" said Representative Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow. 

But, it turns out there's another case.

Vincent LeCompte of Muskogee pleaded guilty to the first degree rape of a 6-year-old girl.  He was given no time behind bars, just probation.

"It's frightening for children.  For our children," said Rose Perry with the Child Abuse Network.

At Tulsa's Child Abuse Network, child advocates say the light sentences happen all the time.

At the center when justice is served headlines are posted on their wall of pride, the postings are an affirmation of a job well done.  But, unfortunately only about 3% to 5% of the child abuse cases they see ever make it to the wall.  

Most cases are not even prosecuted.  Many for the same reasons Earls' and LeCompte's cases pled out because prosecutors would not rely on the child's testimony.

"But it disappoints me greatly as a child advocate because children can be very, very credible even when it's their word against an adult's," said Rose Perry with the Child Abuse Network.

The key to a successful case, she says, is to have some physical evidence.  But, physical evidence is very rare and in our judicial system that can mean light sentences for sex offenders.

"I would rather see this happen than for that person to totally be scott-free because as a sex offender he will be monitored," said Rose Perry with the Child Abuse Network.

Vincent LeCompte's sentence was 20 years suspended which means he's on probation and is now a registered sex offender.