SAPULPA, Okla. – A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper charged with assaulting three women during traffic stops is set to enter new pleas on charges of sexual assault, indecent exposure and sexual battery, according to online court records.
Eric Roberts, 44, waived his right to a jury trial on Wednesday, according to Creek County District Court records. Roberts, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 6 to enter new pleas.
Roberts’ attorney, Gary James of Oklahoma City, did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on the development. But Creek County District Attorney Max Cook confirmed that a trial previously scheduled for Roberts next week has been called off.
“I assume they are contemplating some kind of plea. Whether they do or not is up to them,” Cook said.
Roberts, who remains free on bond, was suspended in July 2014, but the allegations didn’t come to light until August 2014 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.
Around the same time, former Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy Gerald Nuckolls was charged with similar crimes. He was convicted last year of sexual battery and indecent exposure for his actions while on duty and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Former Oklahoma City Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted in December of raping and sexually victimizing women while on his beat and was sentenced to 263 years in prison on 18 separate counts, including first-degree rape. He had been arrested in August 2014.
The AP highlighted Holtzclaw’s case as part of a yearlong investigation into sexual misconduct by law officers, finding that about 1,000 officers in the U.S. lost their licenses for sex crimes or other sexual misconduct over a six-year period. Those figures are likely an undercount, because not every state has a process to ban problem officers from law enforcement.
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