Thunderbird Youth Academy Sergeant Accused of Rape

Thunderbird Youth Academy in Pryor, Oklahoma, is a free program for at-risk youth. The Academy uses military-style training and the National Guard Youth Challenge Program core components, implemented through the Oklahoma Military Department and the Oklahoma National Guard.

According to the Academy's website, "The shared mission of Thunderbird Youth Academy and the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year olds, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens."

Charges of Second Degree Rape

Now, one of the Academy Sergeant's responsible for helping high school dropouts get back on the right track is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old cadet.

According to reports, Sgt. Leah Rose was arrested Friday and after Mayes County prosecutors charged her with two counts of rape by instrumentation in connection with the allegations. She has since been released on $100,000 bond.

Police say Rose admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl, whose unit fell under the supervision of the Sergeant. She allegedly told them that she knew her relationship with the girl was in violation of the policies of Thunderbird Youth Academy, but that she was in love with the teen. She allegedly told investigators that, despite her feelings for the girl, she stopped talking to her when the teen threatened to get a protective order against her. 

In Oklahoma, the age of consent is typically 16 years old, but there are several circumstances under which a person aged 16 or older cannot legally consent to sexual activity. It is considered an act of second degree rape, rape by instrumentation, forcible sodomy, or sexual battery for a sexual activity to occur under the following circumstances (21 O.S. § 1111):

  • 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;
  • Where 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 in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system; 

Rape by instrumentation is defined in § 1111.1 as vaginal or anal penetration by any body part or object not amounting to sexual intercourse, and it includes "consensual" acts that take place between two people who are excluded by law from engaging in sexual conduct with each other.

Because the defendant in this case is an Oklahoma state government employee, and because the teen was under the custody and supervision of the state-run academy, the woman was charged despite the girl having reached the age of consent.

Under the alleged circumstances, rape by instrumentation is punished as second degree rape, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration if the defendant is convicted.  For more information click here.

Image Credit: Thunderbird Youth Academy

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