Testimonies claim Burgess led 'sex slave ring'

Tuesday, August 12th 2008, 3:55 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

ARAPAHO, Okla. -- Former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess faced allegations in court Tuesday of managing a sex slave operation at the county jail.

Burgess resigned in April and is facing 35 felony charges, including one count of kidnapping, two counts of sexual battery, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy and 14 counts of second-degree rape.

Former female inmates have also filed a federal civil rights suit against Burgess, claiming he ran the sex slave ring.

The prosecution presented its case against Burgess with testimonies by those accusing the former law enforcement officer.

Jennifer Taylor, the former sheriff's deputy, testified that Burgess groped her on three different occasions. In a separate incident happening in 2005, Taylor said she saw two drug court participants in the sheriff's office while the lights were off.

One of the participants was sitting on the desk and the other spinning in a chair as the sheriff went into the office, according to Taylor.

She said she never officially reported the mistreatment for fear of losing her job.

A prisoner also took the stand, alleging that in October 2006, Burgess offered to cut her one year sentence in half and give her trustee status in exchange for sexual favors.

The prisoner said Burgess pulled his pants down and exposed himself while the two were in his office. She testified that she knew she was there to pay her end of the bargain and to have sex with him.

The court heard other allegations, including drugs offered to inmates by Burgess and cigarettes in exchange for inmates exposing themselves.

In one tearful testimony, a drug court participant said she performed sexual favors for Burgess on several occasions, claiming Burgess promised to keep her out of prison.

"He had a lot of power, if he wants you gone, you will be gone," the woman said.

The allegations became known after an attorney approached one of the women about the alleged abuse in the Custer County jail. The preliminary hearing will continue Wednesday.

Burgess' defense attorneys said their client is innocent and the former sheriff is eager to go to court and clear his name.