A former Hennessey girls basketball coach has pleaded guilty to two felony counts of second-degree rape connected with a sexual relationship he had with a student in 2010.
Ben Davis Forsythe, 33, appeared in Kingfisher County District Court Friday morning to enter a guilty plea in the case pursuant to a plea deal struck between Forsythe, his attorney, David Ogle, and Assistant District Attorney Bryan Slobotsky.
Forsythe was sentenced by Associate District Judge Robert Davis to 10 years suspended on each of the felony counts and 90 days to serve in the Kingfisher County Jail under the terms of probation.
Forsythe was arraigned in the case in December 2010 after allegations surfaced he had sex with a student and player.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, the student spoke with Kingfisher County Deputy Bryon Blankenship in November 2010 about her relationship with Forsythe.
She said between November 2009 and May 2010, while she was a student at Hennessey High School, she engaged in a sexual relationship with the coach and teacher, according to the affidavit.
The student was 18 years of age at the time of the relationship, but the sexual contact still is defined as rape due to state statutes prohibiting such relationships between school employees and students.
According to state statutes, rape includes situations “where the victim is at least 16 years of age and is less than 20 years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is 18 years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system.”
Forsythe had filed a motion through attorney David Slane in February, contending the statute violates the U.S. and Okla-homa constitutions.
Slane argued in that motion the right to procreate and the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual conduct are fundamental rights protected through the due process clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. That motion was denied by the judge in the case.
The case against Forsythe was slated to go to trial beginning Nov. 28, an ordeal made unnecessary by Friday’s plea.
Forsythe admitted to the court Friday he had engaged in a sexual relationship with the student and entered a plea of guilty in both felony counts of second-degree rape.
Slobotsky said no victim’s impact statement was submitted in the case, and Davis moved directly to sentencing.
Under the terms of the plea agreement Forsythe was sentenced to 10 years under the supervision of the Depart-ment of Corrections on each count, all suspended and set to run concurrently.
Under the terms of probation Forsythe is required to serve 90 days in the Kingfisher County Jail. That 90 days is not included in the two 10-year suspended terms.
Forsythe also is required to register as a sex offender, pay a $1,000 fine, pay $1,000 to the victims’ compensation fund and pay court costs and fees associated with the case.
After handing down the sentence, Davis reminded Forsythe he still could face prison time if he does not comply with the requirements of his probation.
“While this sentence is suspended, it is a conviction, and if for any reason you are found to have violated probation, your time in the penitentiary will be 85 percent of the sentence up to 10 years,” Davis told Forsythe.
He then commended Forsythe for entering the guilty plea and “accepting responsibility” for the crime.
“Mr. Forsythe you have control over what effect this will have on the rest of your life,” Davis said. “I commend you for taking care of this matter in a responsible way. This is not a constitutional matter, it is a law. Now you are stepping up and taking responsibility for violating that law. I sentence you accordingly and I wish you well.”
Forsythe is scheduled to begin his 90-day term in the Kingfisher County Jail on Jan. 2, 2012.