- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A prosecutor and defense attorney involved in the case of an ex-Oklahoma highway patrolman accused of assaulting three women during traffic stops in 2014 are stepping down to work at the same law firm.

Prosecutor Maxey Reilly left the Creek County District Attorney’s office last month, which District Attorney Max Cook said could delay the fall jury trial for Eric Roberts, who has pleaded not guilty to sex assault, indecent exposure and sexual battery charges and is free on bond.

“At this point in time, we anticipate it will probably go to trial in October, but we could have some issues,” Cook said. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Reilly will pair with longtime defense attorney Carla Stinnett, and told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Stinnett plans to withdraw this week as Roberts’ defense attorney to avoid any appearance of a conflict. Stinnett does not talk to the media outside of court.

Reilly, who has been a prosecutor for 10 years and tried thousands of cases, said she left to be closer to family in Okemah, where Stinnett has a second office.

“(Roberts’) file will never pass through my office doors,” she said.

Cook said he was surprised to hear Reilly was leaving for the position in the rural city that’s about 65 miles south of Tulsa.

“It’s unusual for this office (except maybe) to leave for a larger office like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but it doesn’t happen much (here),” he said.

Roberts was suspended in July 2014 and resigned two months later. Around that 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, which found 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. The AP’s findings suggest that sexual misconduct is among the most prevalent complaints against law officers.

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The AP’s “Betrayed by the Badge” series:

AP: Hundreds of officers lose licenses over sex misconduct: http://apne.ws/1J0bVlI

AP: Officer sex cases plagued by lax supervision, policies: http://apne.ws/1SSnNf4

AP: Broken system lets problem officers jump from job to job: http://apne.ws/1QARkuu

AP investigation into officer sex misconduct, by the numbers: http://apne.ws/1J0c6gU

A look inside AP’s investigation on officer sex misconduct: http://apne.ws/1lB6J2L

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