An Oklahoma judge dismissed three felony child sex abuse charges against a retired cop Monday despite forensic evidence proving he had molested a 3-year-old girl as well as evidence he had burned her diapers afterwards.
The judge also threw the girl’s father in jail for a year after he voiced objections to how his daughter was being treated on the witness stand.
Pittsburg County Special District Judge Matthew Sheets dismissed the felony child sex charges against Martin Stites because the girl, now four, was unable to describe in detail how she was molested.
Stites, 57, spent 22 years with the McAlester Police Department before he retired as a lieutenant in 2011. In 2015, he was watching the girl on behalf of the mother.
According to the McAlester News-Capital:
Authorities at the time said a forensic analysis of the child indicated she’d been sexually assaulted. Authorities also said there was evidence to indicate the victim’s clothing was burned after the fact.
It was during the victim’s testimony when things quickly turned ugly. Burns asked the victim if she could identify her assailant in the courtroom. The victim gave an answer, but the answer was not completely audible. Burns said she thought the victim said something along the lines of “I don’t know,” but the victim’s father wanted to point out she had said “I don’t want to look at him.”
That was when the judge had the father removed, which led to the father using obscenities and pushing the door loudly on his way out, which led to the judge ordering him arrested.
After a short break, the father reappeared in the courtroom with handcuffs on as he was escorted by a deputy. Sheets asked him what he said while exiting the courtroom and the father confirmed he used foul language. Sheets sentenced the man to six months in the Pittsburg County Justice Center.
The father then tuned to Stites and used several cuss words to voice his displeasure with him. Sheets then used his gavel to restore order and sentenced the man to an additional six months in the county jail, citing a second violation.
After the father was taken away from the courtroom, the preliminary hearing started again. The child offered testimony, using a nickname for Stites, indicating the individual had touched her with his hand on her private areas. However, many of the questions asked by Burns to the 4-year-old were met with a “I don’t know” response and her telling officials she did not want to answer some of the questions.
And because the girl was not completely comfortable talking about how she was molested in front of a courtroom where the cop was staring her down, the judge dismissed the three charges against him.
The judge, however, did order the former cop to stand trial on a new charge of lewd molestation based on the child’s testimony, so apparently she provided information that she had not provided before.
Stiles is due back in court on March 11. In 2006, he made headlines after arresting a man trying to entice a 13-year-old girl on the internet to have sex with him.
In May 2015, A Pittsburgh County sheriff’s investigator took the girl to a hospital where a nurse determined there was physical evidence she had been molested.
Another deputy drove out to the home to collect the girl’s clothes but discovered the diapers the girl was wearing had been burned by Stiles.
It is not clear why these investigators or nurse did not testify during Monday’s hearing, leaving the judge to base his decision on the testimony of a terrified little girl.
Judge Matthew Sheets can be reached at (918) 423-6651.