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Lawyers for Bixby students charged with rape file motion to disqualify DA's Office

Colton Cable, William Thomas, Samuel Lakin and Joe Wood (left to right) all face second-degree rape charges stemming from a reported sexual assault at the home of former Bixby superintendent Kyle Wood in September 2017. (KTUL)

Defense attorneys for four Bixby teenagers charged with rape have filed a motion to disqualify the Rogers County District Attorney's Office from representing the state in their case.

Lawyers for Samuel Lakin, William Thomas, Colten Cable and Joe Wood filed the request in Tulsa County district court Tuesday. The documents say District Attorney Matt Ballard and members of his staff have ties to the alleged victim's family.

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The four teenagers, who are all members of the Bixby High School football team, were charged with second-degree rape after a report that they sexually assaulted a former teammate with a pool stick during a team gathering. The incident allegedly happened at the home of former Superintendent Kyle Wood.

Defense attorneys are arguing that the incident was nothing more than roughhousing, but they have now filed a request for an evidentiary hearing in regard to the motion to disqualify the District Attorney's Office. According to the newly-filed documents, one of the accuser's parents is a long-time prosecutor who worked with Ballard in Oklahoma County for about four years. The defense says the two have remained friends since they stopped working together.

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That same parent is also friends with prosecutor Kali Strain, according to the court documents. Strain, who attorneys say has been actively involved in the investigation and appeared before the multi-county grand jury, reportedly worked under the parent in the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. The documents also allege that Strain is personally close to the accuser and his sibling and could have been a babysitter for the accuser.

The case was originally moved to Rogers County due to a conflict of interest in the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office.

In response, Ballard released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the defense has repeatedly shamed and blamed the victim and his past work is unrelated to this case. He plans to file a response to the motion in the next two weeks.

Fighting for justice with integrity and standing up for the rights of crime victims are sacrosanct missions in my office.
While my office cannot comment regarding ongoing criminal cases it is my duty to be the voice for victims.
The attorneys who filed the motion to disqualify my office from prosecuting their four clients for 2nd degree rape of a juvenile have
chosen to all but use the victim’s name to identify him in their document.
This follows last week’s media conference where they repeatedly used victim blaming and shaming in an attempt to somehow excuse
their client’s behavior by claiming rape culture is the norm. That is what is alarming here, not their misstatements about what
creates a conflict sufficient to disqualify my office.
To claim my past work, completely unrelated to the criminal case at hand, disqualifies me defies reason and the law.
Under the law the defendants are presumed innocent and I look forward to trying this case in a courtroom and fulfilling the
commitment I made when the Attorney General appointed me to prosecute the case.
We’ll file a response to the motion within 15 days.
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