Trial Ordered for Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Accused of Rape

A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper will go to trial after a judge ruled that there is enough evidence to try him on second degree rape charges.  Patrick Venable, 28, was accused of rape after having sex on duty with a woman he had pulled over in a traffic stop.  Venable has since resigned from the Highway Patrol. The incident in question occurred last summer, when Venable made a traffic stop for suspicion of DUI.  According to the probable cause affidavit, Venable pulled the alleged victim over on the Broadway Extension in Oklahoma City at approximately 4:30 a.m. on June 20, 2011.  The affidavit says that the woman got into Venable's patrol vehicle, and he turned off the vehicle's camera.  Allegedly, Venable told the woman she was pretty and she complimented in kind, leading to sexual contact in the vehicle. The woman, who testified that she had been drinking at both a family gathering and at a bar in Moore prior to the traffic stop, says that she and Venable then went to her home in Guthrie. Venable says that the sexual encounter was completely consensual.  However, at issue is whether the woman was considered to be in custody at the time of the incident.  The former trooper's Oklahoma City defense rape lawyer asserts that the woman was not in custody and that the encounter took place between two consenting adults.  However, the judge at the preliminary hearing disagreed and said the woman was in Venable's custody, and therefore a trial on second degree rape charges was warranted.  The Oklahoma sex crime attorney says that he will renew the motion to dismiss the case in district court. Statutory rape in Oklahoma is generally charged as second degree rape.  According to the Oklahoma Statutes, certain people are legally unable to consent to sex, and the act of second degree rape is defined as sexual intercourse with someone who:

  • is under the age of 16
  • was given an intoxicating substance by the defendant as a means to force submission
  • is unconscious and the defendant knows this fact
  • was tricked into believing that he or she was having sex with his or her own spouse
  • is under legal custody of a state agency and has sex with a state employee or the employee of a state contractor
The fifth element of the definition of second degree rape is what makes the designation of custody so critical in this case.  Though the case has been ordered to trial, it can still be dismissed if the district court judge agrees with Venable's Oklahoma City rape attorney that the woman was not, in fact, in Venable's legal custody at the time of the incident.  Otherwise, that critical point may be up to a jury to decide.

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