State Representative pleads innocent to sexual battery charge

Thursday, February 26th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- State Rep. Mike O'Neal pleaded innocent Thursday to a charge that he groped a woman at a motel lounge.

O'Neal is accused of one count of sexual battery. The Enid Republican was freed on $5,000 bond.

A preliminary hearing was set for April 15.

The felony charge was filed Tuesday by Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane. It is linked to a 42-year-old woman's allegations that O'Neal made a vulgar remark to her and then grabbed her buttocks.

O'Neal has refused to comment about the allegations.

His attorney, Gloyd McCoy, also has had no comment.

The charge against O'Neal carries a five-year maximum penalty.

Conviction on a penalty charge would mean O'Neal would be automatically suspended from his legislative post.

According to a police affidavit filed with the charges, O'Neal sat down with a group of women around 11 p.m. on Feb. 10 and began making lewd comments.

One woman alleges O'Neal, 55, told her to change into boxer shorts and a T-shirt and join him in the hot tub, according to the affidavit filed by Oklahoma City police Det. Daniel Sheehan. Another woman claimed O'Neal then followed her into the motel bar and grabbed her buttocks.

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

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

O'Neal is serving his fourth term in the state House. He served two terms in the Legislature from 1995 to 1998, then was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2002.

He is married and has three children.