State Lawmakers Seek Pittsburg Co Judge's Ouster

Thursday, June 11th 2009, 11:14 am
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

UNDATED - There is anger and outrage over the sentence handed down to a convicted child rapist.  He's going to prison, but only for one year.  The story has made national headlines and two state lawmakers are taking action.

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly slammed an Oklahoma judge into the national spotlight.  District Judge Thomas Bartheld of Pittsburg County is now under fire, many saying he should be thrown off the bench.

Judge Bartheld sentenced 64-year-old David Harold Earls to 20 years in prison, 19 of which are suspended after the man pleaded no contest to charges of raping and sodomizing a 5-year-old girl.   That means he will only serve one year in prison.

"There is a very, very strong outcry when a child is raped, two children are raped, and the, basically the perpetrator gets a slap on the hand," said Representative Dr. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow.

Representative Dr. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow and Representative Mike Reynolds are taking action on the case.

They've filed a resolution to investigate the judge and his actions.  In the resolution they state the judge's actions constitute a gross neglect of duty.

"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 Ritze.

If nothing else, Ritze says he would like the governor or attorney general to take action, something Attorney General Drew Edmonson says he's considering.

"I've asked my office to look into the facts behind that and to see if there is any jurisdictional basis upon which the Attorney General's Office could act," said Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Judge Bartheld says there is more to this story and feels he has been singled out by Fox News Channel. 

Meanwhile, Pittsburg County prosecutors tell The News On 6 they're not happy with the plea bargain, but if they had gone before a jury, they would have risked losing the case all-together.