Hearing scheduled for ex-Oklahoma trooper facing sex charges

AP News
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Posted: Aug 12, 2015 5:01 PM

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) — A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper charged with rape and sexual battery of three women during traffic stops will get to address some of the allegations against him at an October preliminary hearing, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Eric Roberts faces a total of 12 charges in three different cases. Judge Richard Woolery on Wednesday ordered Roberts back to court Oct. 5 for a hearing on charges of sexual battery, soliciting an act of lewdness or prostitution and embezzlement.

He's pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on bond. Dressed in a white dress shirt, gray slacks and tie, Roberts sat near the back of the courtroom for Wednesday's hearing, flanked by two people who appeared to be supporters.

Roberts is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 25 in the two other cases on charges including second-degree rape, sexual battery, forcible sodomy, asking for/receiving a bribe and embezzlement. One sexual battery and one rape charge were previously dismissed.

Roberts was suspended in July 2014, but the allegations didn't come to light until August when a woman filed a federal lawsuit claiming Roberts raped her following a traffic stop. Two more women later came forward with similar allegations. He resigned that September, about two weeks after his arrest.

Gary James, an attorney for Roberts, said the charges are in dispute, but wouldn't elaborate. James said that if the cases to go to trial, he anticipates asking for a change of venue due to the high-profile nature of the case, and described his client as stressed knowing about the nature of crimes he's been accused of.

"He's trying to make it," James said in a telephone interview. "He's trying to maintain a life as best as he can."

Roberts did not comment after the hearing. Another of his attorneys, Carla Stinnett, instructed him not to speak to a reporter who tried to talk to him, and referred all questions to James.