State lawmaker jailed over groping incident

Wednesday, September 8th 2004, 3:02 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State Rep. Mike O'Neal was sent to jail Wednesday for 30 days as part of a plea agreement for groping a woman in a motel lounge.

He is to return to court on Oct. 8 and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of outraging public decency. There would be no further jail time.

After agreeing to the deal, O'Neal was handcuffed and removed from District Judge Twyla Mason Gray's courtroom.

O'Neal was charged with sexual battery, a felony, in February after he allegedly groped a woman at an Oklahoma City motel lounge. The victim agreed to the reduced charge.

The original charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and requires violators to register as sex offenders.

``Our office is very concerned about the public perception of justice, particularly with public officials,'' said Debra Forshee, spokeswoman for District Attorney Wes Lane's office. ``It's very important to the victim that he serve time.''

Gray merely said ``no comment'' when reporters questioned him after his court appearance.

O'Neal, 55, is completing his fourth term as a member of the Oklahoma House and chose not to seek re-election this year.

He is accused of making a vulgar remark to a 42-year-old woman and then grabbing her buttocks at an Oklahoma City motel on Feb. 10.

A police affidavit filed with the charges states O'Neal sat down with a group of women and began making vulgar comments.

One woman alleges O'Neal told her to change into boxer shorts and a T-shirt and join him in the hot tub, the affidavit filed by Oklahoma City police Detective Daniel Sheehan says.

O'Neal allegedly groped her when she got up to leave.

She ran to an elevator to leave, but O'Neal pried the doors open, according to the affidavit. She then contacted motel staff for assistance.

The woman alleged O'Neal was intoxicated at the time, according to the affidavit.