Oklahoma Probationer Benjamin Lawrence Petty Sentenced to 15 Years’ Imprisonment for Failing Polygraph and Denying Guilt

Benjamin Lawrence Petty

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.

James R. Kelly
(LinkedIn profile)

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.

Oklahoma District Judge
Dennis Morris

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.

Randy Ellis
(Twitter profile)

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.

FBI Reliance on Polygraph Delayed Finding of Nichols’ Explosives Cache

The Associated Press reports in a story published by MSNBC.com under the title, “FBI at first dismissed tip on Nichols explosives.” Excerpt:

WASHINGTON – The FBI initially dismissed a tip that convicted bomber Terry Nichols had hidden explosives and they might be used for an attack this month coinciding with the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

While the FBI has found no evidence supporting the idea that an attack is in the works for the April 19 tenth anniversary, the information that explosives had been hidden in Nichols’ former home in Herington, Kan., turned out to be true.

The tip came from imprisoned mobster Gregory Scarpa Jr., 53, a law enforcement official said this week. Scarpa is an inmate in the same maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colo., where Nichols is serving life sentences for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah federal building that killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges in the bombing and executed in 2001.

Scarpa learned about the explosives from Nichols, mainly through notes passed between them, said Stephen Dresch, a Michigan man who is Scarpa’s informal advocate.

Source failed lie detector test
Dresch gave the information to the FBI in early March. But FBI agents did not search the vacant house until March 31. The bureau did not act more quickly because Scarpa failed a lie detector test, said the law enforcement official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

The FBI lab continues to examine the materials for fingerprints and other clues that might show where the explosives originated and who may have had them before they got into Nichols’ home.

Scarpa, a member of the Colombo organized crime family serving 50-plus years on drug trafficking, conspiracy and racketeering convictions, first communicated information about the explosives on March 1, then provided more details on March 10 and 11, Dresch said in letters sent to the staffs of two members of Congress and to the FBI’s Detroit office. Scarpa revealed the location of the house on March 11, Dresch said.

The first letter said Scarpa learned from another prisoner, assumed by Dresch to be Nichols, “the location of a bomb on U.S. soil.” The second described two rock piles in the crawl space beneath Nichols’ former home. Under one, it said, were cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic. Those details match what the FBI said it found.

The FBI should use actual investigation instead of the make-believe science of polygraphy to evaluate tips. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center might have been averted had not the FBI terminated a well-placed confidential informant, in part because of inconclusive polygraph results. The FBI’s foolish reliance on polygraph screening has also cost it the services of at least one other confidential informant.

Oklahoma: “Polygraph Law Ruled Unconstitutional”

This short news article from NewsOK.com is cited here in full:

A law requiring people to be U.S. citizens before they can be licensed to give lie detector tests is unconstitutional, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in an opinion issued Friday.

Under the Polygraph Examiners Act, an individual applying for licensing must be a citizen of the United States.

Using existing case law, Edmondson and Assistant Attorney General Joann Stevenson concluded that the law is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Polygraph examiners do not occupy important nonelective positions where they directly affect public policy, Stevenson said in the opinion.

Other states have come to similar conclusions when considering citizenship requirements for notary publics, according to the opinion.

Oklahoma Police Applicant Files Polygraph-Related Suit

Martin Mull of the Edmond Sun reports in an article titled “Moore officer says she [sic] being truthful.” Excerpt:

A Moore police officer said she does not understand how she could have failed a polygraph test about no prior drug use during an interview process in Edmond.

That was the reason Etta Maytubby said she was given for not being hired by the Edmond Police Department in 1999. However, as a former college basketball player, Maytubby said she had to submit to random drug tests and never failed one.

Maytubby filed a lawsuit July 16 against Edmond Police Chief Dennis Cochran alleging that the city of Edmond “has a municipal custom and practice of racial discrimination,” according to court documents.

Maytubby, who is black, alleged in the suit that the police chief and other unknown officers who made up an interview committee to hire police officers, denied her employment because of her race and her female gender.

Maytubby said the main issue she recalls that police said prevented her from being hired was failing questioning about drug use on a polygraph test administered to applicants.

“I played four years of college basketball at (the University of Oklahoma) when we were part of the Big 8 (conference). We were required to have random drug testing when I played,” Maytubby told The Sun this morning.

She said she underwent at least two random drug tests during her years at OU, and did not fail any drug testing.

“I grew up playing basketball and went on to play in college. College athletes are treated very well, so I never experienced any type of discrimination playing ball. So when this happened, it was very shocking to me,” Maytubby said.

Maytubby said when she was notified she would not be hired because she failed the drug questioning on the polygraph, she called Cochran and volunteered to do whatever was necessary to show she did not use illegal drugs, including hair follicle testing that she said clearly proves whether a person has used illegal drugs in the past.

“But he said, ‘No, I don’t want to take the chance, just let it go,'” Maytubby said.

Maytubby, 28, spent one year playing professional basketball for the Richmond Rage of the American Basketball Association, before coming back to Oklahoma to pursue a career in law enforcement. She has been a patrol officer with the Moore Police Department for 18 months.

Polygraph “tests,” which are subject to polygrapher manipulation of outcomes and which may be scored subjectively, provide a perfect cover for racial discrimination in hiring.