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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

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.


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