When most people think of statutory rape, the most likely incident that comes to mind is sex between a person over the age of 18 and a person under the legal age of consent, which in Oklahoma is 16.
Nuances of Consent Laws in the State of Oklahoma
They may also think of an instance involving sex between a student and a teacher, which is forbidden by law even if the student is aged 16 to 19 and above the age of consent. However, statutory rape is not simply about age. Rather, it is more often about perceived abuse of power or authority.
For this reason, Oklahoma statutory rape law includes the prohibition of sex between someone in custody of a federal, state, or local agency and an employee of that agency. Thus, it so happens that an adult inmate who has seemingly consensual sex with a Department of Corrections employee is considered to be a victim of rape.
With the number of recent news stories about DOC employees being charged and convicted of sex crimes for sexual activity with inmates, it seems as if these individuals do not realize the severity of the offense. In the past two years, this blog has covered the stories of at least 9 Oklahoma DOC employees or law enforcement officers who have been criminally charged after having sex with an inmate or a person in police custody.
It is important to remember, though, that the law forbids sex between an inmate and any employee of the DOC, law enforcement agency, or other custodial agency. In late July, a mail clerk with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections was criminally charged with forcible sodomy after performing oral sex on an inmate working maintenance in the building where she worked.
Charges in the Case
The 55-year-old woman faces felony conviction, a prison term of up to 20 years, and lifetime sex offender registration for performing fellatio on a 35-year-old man. Criminal conviction, prison time, and sex offender registration are not the only consequences a DOC employee charged with rape (read more here) have to contend with. An inmate can file a civil lawsuit against his or her "abuser."
In June 2012, Joseph Harp Correctional Center case manager Kasey McDonald, then 37, was charged with rape after allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 24-year-old inmate. Charges were filed after she was allegedly recorded having a sexually suggestive phone conversation with Phillip Thomas Burris, Jr.
According to court documents filed in the criminal case, Burris told investigators that he and McDonald had sex "40 or 50" times. In his civil complaint, Burris's attorney alleges that the sex was "non-consensual" and occurred 50 to 100 times. Burris's lawsuit names the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Director Justin Jones, and Joseph Harp Correctional Center warden Mike Addison warden as defendants.
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