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Custer County Sheriff charged with 35 felony counts

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By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

A Western Oklahoma Sheriff is facing serious charges after allegedly committing dozens of sexual crimes, spanning over 18 months.

For over 13 years, Sheriff Michael Burgess was the top cop in Custer County. On Wednesday, Burgess turned himself into the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents and appeared in court.

Burgess faces a long list of criminal charges, including one count of kidnapping, two counts of sexual battery, five counts of bribery by a public official, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy, and 14 counts of second-degree rape.

Although the Custer County Sheriff's Web site lists Burgess as holding the office, he did turn in resignation papers on Wednesday before going before a judge.

OSBI started investigating Burgess after a participant in a drug court hearing claimed she and the sheriff were involved in a sexual relationship.

"It's always serious when we're looking into a member of law enforcement or county government," Jessica Brown of OSBI said. "Those people are supposed to be held to a higher standard."

Burgess is also facing other legal battles.

Twelve former inmates filed a federal civil rights suit against Burgess, claiming he ran a "sex slave ring." There are repeated accusations of rape, sodomy and sexual battery.

Burgess' bond was set for $50,000, with the condition that he has no contact with any witnesses in the case against him.

If Burgess is found guilty on all 35 counts, he could receive 467 years in prison.

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