Staff and Wire Reports

MCALESTER, Oklahoma -- A convicted child rapist from McAlester is going to jail, but it will only be for one year.

David Earls, 64, pleaded no contest to charges that he raped a 5-year-old. He received a 20-year sentence, with 19 years suspended, meaning he'll only serve one year.

That decision is sparking outrage across Oklahoma and the nation.

"You do not give a child rapist one year in prison in the United States of America," Fox's host Bill O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly went on to call for action from Governor Brad Henry and Attorney General Drew Edmondson. Edmondson responded Wednesday at a press conference where he announced he was running for Governor.

"I've asked my office to look into the facts behind that and to see if there is any jurisdictional basis upon which the attorney general's office could act," Edmondson said. "But I was very distressed by the sentence itself."

Two state House members angered with Pittsburg County Judge Thomas Bartel's decision to approve a one-year prison sentence are calling for his removal.

Judge Thomas Bartel said he followed the law.

"I took a plea agreement," he said. "The district attorney, child's family, advocates and defendant all agreed to this, and I took the plea."

The child testified in open court during a pretrial hearing. Earls was present. Before trial, prosecutors were trying to get the girl qualified to testify on closed circuit, a procedure to determine whether the child could discern between the truth and a lie, said Pittsburg County District Attorney J.B. Miller.

The judge did certify that the child could testify by closed circuit. But Miller said his assistants, a child advocate and her family feared she would freeze up and Earls could end up being freed. That's when the plea bargain was reached -- before the trial began.

Investigators were unable to gather DNA evidence.

Earls, who served seven years in prison for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, was released on medical parole for cancer and began living with the mother of the victim, Miller said.

Earls, who must also register as a sex offender, is expected to have three years to live, Miller said.