Sheriff Accused of Running Sex-Slave
Operation from Jail
Mike Burgess, the Sheriff of Custer County
Oklahoma resigned shortly before state prosecutors filed 35 felony
charges against him for running a sex-slave operation out of the
county jail. If convicted, the once-popular sheriff could face 467
years in prison on charges that include 14 counts of second-degree
rape, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy and five counts of bribery
by a public official.
Former Custer County
Sheriff Michael Burgess
Burgess has been the top officer of this western
Oklahoma County with a population of 26 thousand since 1994. The
crimes allegedly occurred between October 2005 and April 2007.
The investigation by Oklahoma authorities that led to
the charges against Burgess may have stemmed from a Federal lawsuit
filed by twelve former prisoners in October 2007. One former prisoner
said she became a jail trusty with more freedom after agreeing to
perform a sex act on Burgess, but lost that status when she later
refused, according to court documents.
In addition to other charges Burgess also faces two
counts each of rape by instrumentation, sexual battery and subornation
of perjury, and one count each of engaging in a pattern of criminal
offences, kidnapping and indecent exposure.
Although Burgess could be sentenced up to 467 years in
prison if convicted on all charges, a lesser sentence is more likely
according to special prosecutor James Boring.
Undersheriff Kenneth Tidwell said Thursday ‘we are
stunned’, adding that no one else from the sheriff's department
appears to be implicated in the criminal charges.
The federal lawsuit alleges sheriff's employees forced
female inmates to engage in wet T-shirt contests and offered
cigarettes to those who would expose their naked breasts.
Burgess surrendered to Oklahoma State Bureau of
Investigation agents and appeared in court Wednesday. He was released
after posting $50,000 bail.