The former Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper charged with second degree rape after having sex with a woman he pulled over on suspicion of DUI accepted a plea deal this week that will keep him out of jail and off the sex offender registry.
Patrick Venable, 29, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and battery Wednesday. In return, the Logan County District Attorney's Office dropped charges of second degree rape. According to Logan County District Attorney Tom Lee, the victim, who says she does not remember much about the incident, supports the plea agreement.
Venable resigned from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol nine days after investigators began looking into allegations that he had sex with a DUI suspect he had taken into custody. According to a probable cause affidavit, Venable pulled over the victim in the early morning hours of June 20, 2011.
When the woman got into his patrol vehicle, the affidavit states, he turned off the camera and told her she was pretty. She returned the compliment, and the two were involved in sexual contact in the car. Venable then drove the woman to her home in Guthrie, where they engaged in sex that was, according to Venable, consensual.
Rape Laws in the State of Oklahoma
However, 21 O.S. § 1111 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code outlines eight specific circumstances defining rape, among them, any situation "where the victim is under the legal custody or supervision of a state agency, a federal agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision and engages in sexual intercourse with a state, federal, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or an employee of a contractor of the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim."
Venable's rape defense lawyer argued that the woman involved was not in the trooper's custody; rather, she freely consented to letting him take her home and engaging in sex. A judge, however, ruled there was enough evidence that the woman was in custody to deny a dismissal of the charges and order Venable to stand trial on a second degree rape charge.
Punishment if Convicted
The plea bargain eliminates the need for a trial, and it allows Venable to avoid the 5-15 year prison sentence that accompanies a second degree rape conviction. Because of his guilty plea to a felony charge of aggravated assault and battery, the ex-trooper is sentenced to a 5-year deferred sentence including 90 days in jail and two years of supervision, evaluation, and treatment.
What defendants in criminal proceedings most want as the outcome of their case is a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal at trial. However, these results are not always possible. In some cases, a defense lawyer can skillfully negotiate a plea agreement or sentencing options that provide the best possible resolution.