A police officer in Cordell, Oklahoma, was arrested last week after he was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. An OSBI agent arrested Evan Garrett Riddle, 22, after an interview at the Washita County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators say Riddle had a 5-month relationship with the teen in which they had sex at both his home and hers. He faces charges of two counts of second degree rape and one count of forcible sodomy. Riddle is being held in the Washita County Jail on $250,000 bond. Oklahoma rape charges include first degree rape, second degree rape, and rape by instrumentation.
Rape Laws in the State of Oklahoma
Rape is defined in 21 O.S. § 1111, which explains the crimes of non-consensual sex as well as sex with those who are legally unable to provide consent. Rape is sexual intercourse, including vaginal or anal penetration, under one or more of the following conditions:
- The victim is under the age of 16, which is the legal age of consent in Oklahoma
- The victim is incapable of providing legal consent because of permanent or temporary mental illness or "unsoundness of mind"
- The act is carried out through force or violence, or through the threat of force or violence when the perpetrator appears able to carry through on the threat
- The victim is intoxicated by a drug administered by the accused as a means of forcing submission to sex
- The victim is unconscious of the nature of the act and the perpetrator knows it
- The perpetrator tricks the victim into believing he or she is the spouse of the victim
- The victim is under legal custody or supervision of a government agency and has sex with an employee or contractor of that agency
- The victim is s student under the age of 20 who has sex with an employee of the school system aged 18 or older
- The victim is the spouse of the perpetrator, but sexual intercourse was accomplished through force or violence or the threat of force or violence accompanied by the apparent power to carry through on the threat
Rape by instrumentation involves vaginal or anal penetration by any foreign object or body part that does not constitute sexual intercourse, but still meets the requirements above.
The statutory definition of rape in § 1111 includes acts which constitute both first and second degree rape.
First degree rape is the more serious offense, punishable by a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of life without parole. Actually, Oklahoma law allows the death penalty as a consequence of first degree rape: "Rape in the first degree is a felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections, for a term of not less than five (5) years, life or life without parole."
First degree rape and second degree rape are distinguished in 21 O.S. § 1114:
A. Rape in the first degree shall include:
1. rape committed by a person over eighteen (18) years of age upon a person under fourteen (14) years of age; or
2. rape committed upon a person incapable through mental illness or any unsoundness of mind of giving legal consent regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or
3. rape accomplished where the victim is intoxicated by a narcotic or anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of the accused as a means of forcing the victim to submit; or
4. rape accomplished where the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused; or
5. rape accomplished with any person by means of force, violence, or threats of force or violence accompanied by apparent power of execution regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or
6. rape by instrumentation resulting in bodily harm is rape by instrumentation in the first degree regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or
7. rape by instrumentation committed upon a person under fourteen (14) years of age. B. In all other cases, rape or rape by instrumentation is rape in the second degree.
Second degree rape is frequently called statutory rape because it fits the legal, or statutory, definition rather than the perception of rape as non-consensual sex. Often in cases of statutory rape, the "victim" consents to sex, but he or she is legally unable to do so according to the provisions of § 1111.
This includes sex with a person aged 14 or 15, sex with a student under aged 20 by an employee of the same school system, or sex with inmates by a law enforcement officer, jail employee, or employee of the Department of Corrections.
Even though statutory rape may seem consensual, it is a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison. Furthermore, anyone convicted of rape--including second degree rape--must register as an Oklahoma Sex Offender. Ignorantia juris non excusat--ignorance of the law does not excuse.
Defense Strategies for Rape Charges
The old "but I thought she was 18" excuse is no defense. However, there may be effective defense strategies available through skilled legal counsel. Hiring a sex crime defense lawyer backed by successful experience is the best way to bring a case to its optimal resolution.