The Phillips & Associates Oklahoma Law Blog


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By Dustin Phillips on
January 7, 2020
April 14, 2020

Two teachers formerly with Hennessey Public Schools await preliminary hearings for allegations of sexual abuse of students in separate incidents while the teachers were employed with the same Oklahoma district.

Details of the Case

As the preliminary hearing looms for former Hennessey baseball coach Michael Conway, 52, his past colleague, former Hennessey girls' basketball and softball coach Ben Davis Forsythe, was arrested at his new job at a Texhoma middle school for crimes alleged to have occurred last school year. Conway's preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 15.  

He has been charged with 22 counts of sex abuse, including 10 counts of Oklahoma lewd molestation, 10 counts of lewd or indecent proposals to a minor, forcible oral sodomy, and rape by instrumentation in Oklahoma.  

The alleged sex offenses date back to 2003. Forsythe was arrested on an Oklahoma second degree rape complaint after allegations from a former basketball player and graduate of Hennessey High School.  Forsythe left his job in Hennessey at the end of last school year and became a basketball coach with a Texhoma middle school.  

Forsythe has also coached in Verden. Under Oklahoma law, the legal age of consent for sex is 16; however, Oklahoma statutory rape law stipulates other individuals besides minors under 16 who are unable to give legal consent.  

The Oklahoma statutes consider it to be rape if  "the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages ins sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system."    

Prosecution of Statutory Rape in OK

This means that no student between 16 and 20 years of age is able to give legal consent to sex with an employee of the school system in which he or she is enrolled.  Even if the student agrees to sex or initiates sex, Oklahoma law considers the action to be statutory rape.  Statutory rape in Oklahoma is prosecuted as second degree rape.        


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