Rep. Ross Ford

Oklahoma State Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow) has expressed concerns about a plea deal offered in Payne County to a former teacher accused of having sexual contact with students. Ford, a former police officer who represents House District 76, serves on the House Criminal Justice and Corrections committee and the Criminal Judiciary committees. He said he is working on language that would require someone like a teacher, clergy member or police officer who violates the public trust by committing a sexual offense to register as a sex offender for life. Provided

Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow), released a statement disapproving of the plea agreement given to a former Stillwater Junior High teacher accused of having sexual relations with a former student and sending explicit messages to another.

Alberto Morejon IV pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a minor by use of technology July 9. He was additionally charged with forcible oral sodomy against another student, but that charge was dismissed.

He received a 10-year sentence, with five years to be served in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and the other five years to be suspended. He will also be required to register as a sex offender. 

Ford released a public statement Monday expressing his concern over the plea deal Morejon received, and how it could be detrimental for Oklahoma kids for him to receive this sentence. 

“Mr. Morejon violated the trust of all Oklahomans by preying on innocent students entrusted to his care,” Ford wrote in the release. “He doesn’t deserve to be able to cut a deal that could result in him serving less than two years in prison and not having to register as a sex offender for life. He should never again be in a position to victimize anyone else. This ruling does not protect children or the public.”

Payne County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas said she spoke to Ford about the Morejon case prior to Ford's statement.

“I am disappointed by Rep. Ford’s comments, because even though he represents a Tulsa district, I took time away from my constituents to speak with him at length about the case and how the resolution came about,” Austin Thomas told the News Press.

Ford said he understood the reasons behind the plea agreement, but that Morejon could serve as little as 15 months to two years in DOC. He said after earning “bonus points,” someone could get out quicker than expected.

“That’s what I had a problem with, we were just letting him out too early,” Ford said.

Thomas said she was also disappointed because as a district attorney, she can’t control how long of a sentence an offender will serve, and that is determined by the Pardon and Parole Board.

“It is entirely possible that Morejon would not serve much more actual time, even if the last five years of the sentence were ordered to be served in prison rather than on probation,” she said. “With the sentence that was imposed, he will at least remain on probation under very strict supervision for the last five years, with the potential of being recommitted if he is not compliant with the probation requirements.”

Ross said he can understand why Thomas would allow this plea deal to happen, and how they would get to keep an eye on Morejon for five years after his release.  However, Ross said this could put future kids at risk, and by letting Morejon out early they run the risk of victimizing other children. 

This has sparked an interest for Ford in changing certain laws or language related to sex offenses.

“I'm working with a couple of different district attorneys trying to come up with language that says something to the effect that if you're a school teacher or a police officer, clergy, or anything, where you have the public trust and you betray it, then you should automatically go to the list as a lifetime sex offender,” Ford said.

Ford said his only concern is making sure the children in Oklahoma are safe and free from victimization.

"As a retired police officer, I take protecting children very seriously. Morejon held a position of public trust. He violated the public trust of ever Oklahoman by preying upon his students." he said. "I also take issue with him receiving only 25 years on the sex offender registry."

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