Tulsa Coach to be Arraigned for Sexual Battery28-Aug-2015
After a preliminary hearing this week, Tulsa Public Schools physical education teacher and golf coach is scheduled to be arraigned on a charge of sexual battery. At the hearing, two witnesses--students at Booker T. Washington High School--testified that Wade Weller, 50, touched a 17-year-old girl on her buttocks in the school gym.
The coach came under suspicion last May after a student told administration that she had seen Weller touch another girl on the buttocks in the presence of other students in the gym. The incident, she said, happened the month before.
After administration questioned the student alleged to have been touched by the coach, she allegedly told them that the coach had hugged her from behind and touched her inappropriately in the gym that day.
Weller was arrested in early May and booked into the Tulsa County Jail. He was later released on $2,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty,and his next court date is set for September 8.
Sexual battery is a felony sex crime that involves non-consensual physical sexual contact with a person aged 16 or older.
Specifically, Oklahoma law defines sexual battery as "the intentional touching, mauling or feeling of the body or private parts of any person sixteen (16) years of age or older, in a lewd and lascivious manner" without the other person's consent (21 O.S. § 1123).In certain cases--such as student/teacher, inmate/jailer, foster child/DHS employee--"consensual" sexual contact is treated as sexual battery because the student or person in custody does not have the legal capacity to provide consent.
Sexual battery is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. It is classified as a Level 3 sex offense, which requires lifetime sex offender registration for anyone convicted of sexual battery. Level 3 sex crimes are considered to be the most egregious offenses, and those convicted of Level 3 crimes are considered to be at the highest risk of re-offense. Few people would classify touching a teen or adult aged 16 or older on his or her bottom to be an equal offense to forcible rape or child molestation, but under Oklahoma's sex offender risk level assessment tool, they are classified the same.
We do not presume to know the details of the case or all of the evidence shown for probable cause in the preliminary hearing. We also hold to the belief that all defendants are to be considered innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law. However, the evidence released in the media shows just how easily an innocent person could be accused and charged with sexual battery.
In a sexual battery case, there is seldom any physical evidence. If a person hugged another and touched his or her bottom, there would be no physical evidence unless the contact involved considerable force or the transfer of body fluids. In this particular case, because the alleged incident was reported weeks after it allegedly occurred, even if there had been physical evidence at the time, it would not likely remain two or three weeks afterward.
Instead, this case seems to hinge on the testimony of two teenage girls. It is obviously important to take seriously allegations of sexual assault; however, it is also a myth that people do not lie about sexual abuse. It happens all of the time--for revenge, to cover up a regretted consensual encounter, to gain an edge in a custody dispute, or to get mom's new boyfriend or a new stepdad out of the picture.
Sexual battery cases can be tricky. It is often difficult to balance justice between an accuser and the accused.
To learn more about sexual battery defense in Oklahoma, call (405) 778-4800, or submit our confidential online case review form.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has commuted the sentences of 14 inm..
An Oklahoma City man has been sentenced to life plus 20 years in p..
Legislators Pull Felony Drug Possession Bill
When Oklahoma voters filled their ballots in November, they approv..
A former University of Oklahoma football player was arrested for a..
A Custer County jail employee has been arrested after being accuse..
In a blow to online privacy, the U.S. House of Representatives vot..
After longtime Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel stepped down, ..
Senate Passes 8 Criminal Justice Reform Bills
In November, Oklahoma voters showed that criminal justice reform w..
An Oklahoma man accused of throwing a knife at his girlfriend and ..
There is no question that DUI is a dangerous problem. Each year in..