By DYLAN GOFORTH
SAPULPA — Eric Roberts, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was arrested and charged last year with a series of on-duty rapes was bound over for trial Friday on one of the three cases he faces.
Testimony was given by the alleged victim in the first case filed against Roberts, which alleges he pulled a woman over last July in Tulsa County, eventually driving her to a secluded location where he ordered her to perform a sexual act.
The woman who testified is not being identified by The Frontier because she is a sexual assault victim. She was arrested following Friday’s hearing on unrelated outstanding warrants previously filed against her.
That alleged victim testified Friday that she had just gotten out of jail, lost her home, lost custody of her child and was smoking marijuana when Roberts pulled her and her friend over just outside a motel where she lived.
Roberts, she said, smelled marijuana inside the car, and instructed her to accompany him to his patrol car, where he eventually asked her how she “satisfies herself sexually” since her boyfriend was in jail. The woman said she was shocked at first, but eventually told Roberts that she used a sex toy that was inside her vehicle, along with the rest of her belongings.
The woman said Roberts then instructed her to go back to her car and return with her cell phone and the sex toy. The woman claims that as Roberts drove her to a secluded Creek County location, he instructed her to penetrate herself with the sex toy while he watched a video called “Gym Teacher Lesbians” on her cell phone.
Roberts’ arrest last year came in between two other high-profile law enforcement sexual assault arrests.
Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested Aug. 21 and later charged with more than a dozen felonies for allegedly targeting and sexually assaulting 13 women.
Roberts was arrested Sept. 15, and the following day, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputy Gerald Nuckolls was arrested in a sexual battery case.
Roberts resigned from the OHP last September, months after it was revealed he allegedly coerced at least three women into sexual encounters while he was on duty.
Roberts was sued last August by the woman who testified Friday, and an affidavit filed last year states investigators believe Roberts told the woman, who had an outstanding arrest warrant in Cherokee County, that he “did not need to take her to jail or write her a ticket, but needed convincing.”
The woman specifically testified Friday that Roberts told her she “had won him over” but that he “needed convincing” not to take her to jail.
Court documents state investigators recovered evidence — which the lawsuit states was a used condom — from the location where the pair allegedly had sex.
Roberts’ defense attorneys argued Friday that the sex between Roberts and the woman was consensual, and that despite her being inside his squad car the entire time, she was not legally in his custody. Traffic stops, his attorneys argued, do not usually constitute a “custodial stop.”
The woman, the attorneys said, was never placed in handcuffs, never arrested, and had multiple opportunities to either leave Roberts’ vehicle or signal for help.
However, Assistant Creek County District Attorney Maxey Reilly said that the length of the traffic stop, and the fact that the woman had allegedly been instructed by Roberts to remove her clothing from the waist down — as well as the fact that Roberts is accused of holding on to the woman’s identification during the entire encounter — meant that she was legally in his custody.
After the civil lawsuit was filed in that case last year, two more women came forward with allegations involving Roberts.
One woman said the former trooper pulled her over June 15 and offered her $20 for a lap dance, and instructed her to “use a U-Haul truck to move, so he could stop her and they could have sexual intercourse in the back” of the truck, according to an affidavit.
Another woman alleged that Roberts had stopped her July 8 for a traffic violation, then asked her “what she would do for that amount of money,” referencing the cost of the citation. Roberts then put the 22-year-old woman in his patrol vehicle, drove to a secluded location, forced her to perform oral sex on him and then ejaculated on her leg, the affidavit alleges.
In total, Roberts now faces 12 charges — one count of rape by instrumentation, three counts of sexual battery, one count of second-degree rape, three counts of embezzlement, one count of officer receiving/asking for a bribe, as well as individual counts of procuring indecent exposure, soliciting an act of lewdness or prostitution, and forcible sodomy.
Creek County District Judge Richard Woolery dismissed two charges that had been filed against Roberts — one count of rape by instrumentation, and one count of an officer receiving/asking for a bribe. Those counts remain filed in another rape case filed against Roberts in Creek County that has not yet been to a preliminary hearing.