Lawmaker charged with forcibly kissing Uber driver


By Sean Murphy - Associated Press



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Prosecutors charged an Oklahoma state senator with felony sexual battery after an Uber driver accused him of grabbing her head and kissing her neck while she was driving him to a bar in June.

In court documents filed Wednesday , an Oklahoma City police detective says the driver told investigators that Republican state Sen. Bryce Marlatt stumbled into her car and commented on her appearance when she picked him up from a restaurant June 26. She said during the ride, he grabbed her and kissed her neck and shoulder.

“He made a comment that if she worked for him then he would ‘feel’ her up,” Detective Natalie Cannon wrote in an affidavit accompanying the charge. “(Marlatt) made comments to the victim asking her to go back to his hotel with him and to have a drink with him, which she declined.”

Marlatt, a 40-year-old married father of four from the western Oklahoma city of Woodward, previously said he was shocked by the allegations. Neither he nor his lawyer, Scott Anderson, replied to phone messages and emails seeking comment about the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Marlatt was relieved of his role as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and vice-chairman of two other Senate panels by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz when the allegations surfaced in July.

“Allegations like those contained in the police report concerning Senator Marlatt are very serious in nature and are not tolerated,” Schulz wrote in a letter to Senate members at the time. “Further action may be taken as deemed necessary.”

Schulz did not reply to a request for comment on Thursday.

Marlatt was arrested in 2014 and charged with a misdemeanor count of being in control of his vehicle while intoxicated after a Woodward County sheriff’s deputy reported finding him asleep in his running pickup truck on a country road. Marlatt received a deferred sentence after pleading no contest, and the case against him was later dismissed.

Marlatt is the third Republican Oklahoma state senator to face criminal charges this year.

Sen. Ralph Shortey, of Oklahoma City, stepped down in March after being charged with child prostitution after prosecutors say he solicited sex from a 17-year-old boy. A federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday accuses Shortey of also making child pornography and child sex trafficking. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Last month, former state Sen. Kyle Loveless was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to embezzling campaign funds and other charges.

By Sean Murphy

Associated Press

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