Attorneys For Bixby Sexual Assault Suspects Want D.A.'s Office Disqualified
TULSA, Oklahoma - Attorneys for the four football players accused of sexually assaulting a teammate have filed a motion to disqualify the Rogers County District Attorney's Office from representing the state of Oklahoma in the criminal proceedings.
The motion names D.A. Matt Ballard, prosecutor Kali Strain and the entire office of District 12 which represents Rogers, Craig and Mayes Counties.
Attorneys for Samuel Lakin, Joe Wood, William Thomas and Colton Cable filed the motion March 13, 2018. They say members of Ballard's office can't give the boys a fair and impartial prosecution.
The case was moved to the Rogers County D.A.'s Office because the victim is related to someone in the Tulsa County D.A.'s Office.
The teens are charged with one count of rape by instrumentation. According to court documents previously filed in the case, the four students admitted to participating in the sexual assault that happened at the superintendent's house on September 27, 2017.
In the new motion, attorneys for the defendants say D.A. Matt Ballard is close professional and personal friends with a relative of the accuser, as is prosecutor Kali Strain.
Attorneys for the defense say Strain has been a babysitter for the alleged victim.
The suspects' attorneys argue, given those relationships, Ballard's office is too close to the case to remain neutral. They've asked a judge to hold a hearing in the matter.
"From bottom to top, this prosecution has been corrupted by a multi-faceted conflict," the motion reads. "At the investigatory level, and at the prosecutorial level, the State's current prosecution team is tainted by close ties to the accuser's family."
Clark Brewster, Paul DeMuro, Brett Swab and Bobby Latham Jr. represent the four football players.
The Rogers County D.A.'s Office will file a response in court within the next 15 days, then, it will be up to a judge to decide how to move the case forward.
Tuesday afternoon, Ballard released a statement saying:
"Fighting for justice with integrity and standing up for the rights of crime victims are sacrosanct missions in my office.
"While my office cannot comment regarding ongoing criminal cases it is my duty to be the voice for victims.
"The attorneys who filed the motion to disqualify my office from prosecuting their four clients for 2nd degree rape of a juvenile have
chosen to all but use the victim’s name to identify him in their document.
"This follows last week’s media conference where they repeatedly used victim blaming and shaming in an attempt to somehow excuse
their client’s behavior by claiming rape culture is the norm. That is what is alarming here, not their misstatements about what
creates a conflict sufficient to disqualify my office.
"To claim my past work, completely unrelated to the criminal case at hand, disqualifies me defies reason and the law.
"Under the law the defendants are presumed innocent and I look forward to trying this case in a courtroom and fulfilling the
commitment I made when the Attorney General appointed me to prosecute the case.
"We’ll file a response to the motion within 15 days."