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July 6, 2014

Prosecutors review crime victim services

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

The grand jury, which assesses whether enough evidence exists to issue criminal indictments and investigates other matters of statewide concern, delivered its findings after looking into a mother’s charges of prosecutorial incompetence in Rogers County.

Kristen Rohr, the crusading mother of a child victim, said she remains furious with a deal struck by Rogers County prosecutors with a man who had been accused of lewd molestation of her daughter, then 3 years old.

Thomas Lou Dougan was initially charged in August 2009. Two and a half years later, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of indecent exposure, which required him to register as a sex offender. Rohr and her husband, a Claremore police officer, said they were not kept informed of plea negotiations.

Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley said her office did, in fact, keep Rohr and her husband apprised of developments. And the grand jury found that Steidley and other county officials had not broken the law in that case or with respect to a litany of other allegations.

But the grand jury seized the opportunity to criticize the treatment of victims, in general.

“Despite these firm foundations in the Oklahoma Constitution and Oklahoma Statutes, no penalties exist for the failure to adhere to these requirements,” it reported. The panel called upon “all district attorneys to adopt best practices in the critical field of victim services.”

Those include documentation as plea deals are reached, the grand jury said. The court record should note, for example, whether a victim or victim’s family are present in the courtroom when a plea is entered; whether victims have been advised of the plea; and whether victims agree to the terms of the deal.

The panel also recommended that victim impact statements be preserved with court records of the judgment and sentence.

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