Prosecutors Challenge Judge's Sentence Change in Sex Abuse Case

In late May, Tulsa County District Judge James Caputo sentenced a former DHS worker who pleaded guilty to forcible oral sodomy to two years in prison followed by eight years of probation. After mulling his decision over the weekend, Judge Caputo changed his mind and vacated his sentence, instead sentencing Ronald J. Green II to a ten-year deferred sentence with no prison time. The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office is challenging Caputo's change, saying that a sex offender is not eligible for deferred sentence and that a District Court judge has no authority to change his own sentence. Green was accused of receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl in DHS custody while he was a 24-year-old employee of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Green was transporting the girl from Stillwater to Tulsa to visit her mother, when he says she offered to perform oral sex on him. He initially refused but then, "gave into" the "terrible act." The girl did not report the incident until approximately a year later, and she admitted that she had been flirting with him and he did not force her to do anything. However, despite the girl's willingness to perform a sex act, and despite Green's initial refusal of her offer, the act violated at least two sections of Oklahoma forcible sodomy law (21 O.S. § 888). Under state law, forcible sodomy includes:

  • Sodomy of a person under age 16 by a person over age 18, 
  • Sodomy of a person whose mental illness or "unsoundness of mind" makes him or her unable to provide legal consent, and
  • Sodomy of a person under the custody of a state, county, or city agency or political subdivision by an employee of that agency.
The term "sodomy" is defined as "the detestable and abominable crime against nature," and it includes both anal sex and oral sex in this definition. Forcible sodomy is a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors say that a sex offense is not eligible for deferred sentencing, and that even if Judge Caputo had the authority to change is own sentence, a deferred sentence is not legal for Green's guilty plea. Furthermore, they argue, only the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has the authority to change the ruling of the district courts once the sentence has been levied. Green's defense attorney argues that the prosecutors are misinterpreting a section of Oklahoma expungement law that indicates sex offenses are not eligible for expungement following a deferred sentence. A deferred sentence is not a conviction. If a person who receives a deferred sentence successfully completes the terms of his sentence and probation, the court record is updated to reflect a plea of not guilty and an outcome of case dismissed. Although Green was granted a deferred sentence by Judge Caputo, he is still required to register as an Oklahoma sex offender. The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his ruling. Judge Caputo has scheduled a rehearing for Monday. Prosecutors say that if the judge upholds the deferred sentence, they will consider appealing his decision to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.  

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