Staff and Wire reports
ARAPAHO, Okla. -- A former Custer County jail inmate's sketch of former Sheriff Mike Burgess' home may be some of the best evidence federal prosecutors have against the lawman.
Burgess resigned from the position he'd held since 1994 shortly before he was charged last week with 35 felony counts for allegedly running a sex slave operation at the jail. The charges included 14 counts of second-degree rape and seven counts of forcible oral sodomy.
The female inmate accused Burgess of threatening to kick her out of the Custer County Drug Court program if she didn't have a sexual relationship with him.
The inmate told state investigators several sexual encounters took place inside the rural home of Burgess, who was a voting member of the Drug Court Team.
"Mason provided a rough sketch of the interior of Burgess' residence which included details that could only be known to someone that had been inside of the residence," according to a search warrant affidavit filed in January by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Elizabeth Green.
The inmate, 40, made her allegation May 21, when she was jailed after failing a drug screen. Court records show the inmate then "disclosed that she had been having sex with Burgess and that he had promised her that he would protect her and keep her from going back to jail."
According to records filed in Custer County court, as she sat in jail that night, OSBI agent Joe Ferrero learned that Burgess allegedly telephoned the inmate's cousin, a fellow drug court participant. The inmate's cousin advised Burgess that the inmate had evidence which she "believed would have Sheriff Burgess' DNA."
The affidavit reads Sheriff Burgess asked the cousin to go to the inmate's house and retrieve the evidence. No definitive information was provided in the affidavit to say if the cousin obliged Burgess.
District Attorney Dennis Smith ordered an investigation of the allegations.
Burgess and his staff were questioned. Some of the staffers were identified in a federal civil lawsuit filed in October on behalf of the inmate and 12 other former Custer County inmates. Jail Administrator Jerry Wood and jailer Aaron Rivers are still working for the county.
NOTE: names of the women accusing Burgess of rape and other sexual abuses have been withheld due to the nature of the accusations.