On Friday, 23 October 2020, Oklahoma district judge Dennis Morris revoked Benjamin Lawrence Petty’s probation and sentenced him to 15 years in prison because he allegedly failed two polygraph “tests” and denied having committed the crime for which he was on probation.
In 2016, Petty pleaded guilty to raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl at a church summer camp as part of a plea agreement that spared him prison time while subjecting him to 15 years of probation that included a requirement that he register as a sex offender and enter a treatment program. At the time, the Petty case sparked outrage because of the perceived leniency of the sentence and was reported both nationally and internationally.
Petty, who suffers from type 1 diabetes and is legally blind, insists that he is innocent of the crimes to which he pleaded guilty and that he entered the plea agreement because he feared for his life if sent to prison.
Court-ordered sex offender therapy programs typically include a requirement that the individual admit guilt and pass a series of polygraph “tests,” typically at the offender’s personal expense.
On 14 February and 14 May 2019, Petty submitted to two polygraph “tests” conducted by James R. Kelly of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. In both instances, Petty denied that he had committed the crimes to which he had pled guilty, and in both instances, Kelly opined that Petty “was attempting deception.”
In 2020, Petty contacted AntiPolygraph.org about his polygraph experience, and AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke prepared a written critique and evaluation based upon Kelly’s written reports of his polygraph examinations of Petty. That critique shows that Kelly, departing from common polygraph practice, constructed relevant questions that presupposed Petty’s guilt, making his “failing” more likely.
Maschke was unable to perform a complete review because Kelly refused to release the computerized polygraph data file, or even a printout of the charts, to Petty. Kelly told Petty that no data beyond the written report was available, even though Oklahoma law requires that polygraph operators in the state maintain on file all polygraph records for a minimum of two years. In the absence of such documentation, a thorough review of a polygraph examination is not possible.
Despite polygraphy’s complete lack of scientific underpinnings and the specific shortcomings associated with James Kelly’s polygraph examinations, District Judge Dennis Morris relied on those polygraph reports and Petty’s refusal to admit guilt in therapy to revoke his probation and sentence him to 15 years in prison.
On Sunday, 15 November 2020, veteran staff writer Randy Ellis of The Oklahoman, who in 2018 reported on Benjamin Petty’s plea agreement, reported on Petty’s protestations of innocence.
Among other things, Ellis reveals previously unreported information that bolsters Petty’s claim of innocence. According to a Department of Human Services report, the alleged victim originally denied that any sexual incident had occurred but admitted having told other girls at the camp that she engaged in sexual acts with Petty.
Petty also “provided The Oklahoman with copies of medical record notes that indicate he is legally blind and suffers from erectile dysfunction, diabetic neuropathy that has resulted in the amputation of two toes, fecal incontinence and other ailments.”
Petty has appealed Judge Morris’ revocation of his probation. The case is State of Oklahoma v. Benjamin Lawrence Petty, No. CF-2016-00159 in the District Court in and for Murray County, Oklahama.
I too have been a victim of this pseudo-science garbage as I told the truth on a sexual offender therapy polygraph and due to the polygrapher’s bias I was told I was being deceptive. The polygrapher ultimately failed me. I was then torn from my family, having abided by all my parole stipulations except therapy related (I watched adult porn 3 times in a year and a half), and cost my wife her husband and our children their father another 6 months in prison and a loss of 1300.00 in loss of financial income every month. I have currently been stuck in a halfway house for the last 3 months and am now told I cannot live with the family I just lived with for 10 months prior to the polygraph…. Can you please help our family?
Paul, we regret that AntiPolygraph.org is not able to intervene to help your family in this situation. However, if polygraph results are at issue in any future legal proceeding, we can provide a pro bono critique and review of the relevant polygraph examination. In such case, please have your attorney contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (202) 810-2105.
[…] who was on probation, in 2020 had his probation revoked and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment largely on the strength of the two polygraph examinations at issue in the complaint. Kelly refused […]
He should have been in prison the first time. Doesn’t matter. He deserves it. He raped a 13 year old. He only got off easy because he’s legally blind. Don’t rape people.
What if he’s innocent, and the crime to which he pleaded guilty did not happen?
Based on my 30 years’ experience working in the criminal justice field and working with offenders convicted of nearly every imaginable crime and knowing how each offender is punished, and amount of prosecutorial effort toward various allegations, I have come to the conclusion that I would much rather be slam dunked guilty of a common crime, such as auto theft, than falsely accused of a sex offense.
With that said, guilty sexual offenders need to be prosecuted aggressively. But for political reasons, even when prosecutors know a case is weak, or nonexistent, they will prosecute and if the case is especially weak, they will use probation as a bargaining chip.
There is no doubt that polygraphists, and the related voice stress analysts are under pressure to deliver false positive test results. And being with both being pseudo-science devices, coming up with the desired result is no great feat. As mentioned by others and me many times, the entire lie industry is made up by charlatans such as “Dr.” Charles Humble, “Dr.” E. Gary Baker and Dan and Susan Ribacoff.
I do not know the case of Benjamin Perry, but I do know that guilt or innocence should not be determined by a device that has the accuracy of a coin toss.
[…] polygraph examinations were admitted as evidence, Oklahoma district judge Dennis Morris revoked Petty’s probation and sentenced him to 15 years in prison because he allegedly failed two […]
Can’t add much to the charges side of the Benjamin Petty’s charges that has already not been covered by this article, but another danger I see regarding the polygraph and the related VSA is an opportunity for crooked DAs to use these devices to build bogus cases against innocent people.
Imagine if the now disgraced DA of Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, would have been allowed to use a polygraph or VSA against the six officers wrongly charged in the Freddie Gray case. Assuming the 50% accuracy of both the polygraph and VSA, three of the cops could have been wrongly convicted.
Going back a little further to the bogus Duke Lacrosse rape case, imagine if the disgraced DA Nafong would have been allowed to use the polygraph or VSA on the wrongly charged Duke students, he may have been able to get some false convictions.
Therefore, the issue that stands out to me on the Petty case is that the DA in Oklahoma may be under political pressure, perhaps by another DA candidate to be tough on sex offenders and make the probation turn into prison time. I hope Petty is not being Nafonged.