Deliberations begin in trial of Oklahoma sheriff accused of coercing sex from female inmates

Okla. (AP) — Jury deliberations began Friday in the trial of a former sheriff accused of using his power over inmates and drug court defendants to coerce them into having sex with him.

Former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess has pleaded not guilty to 36 charges of rape, rape by instrumentation, kidnapping, sexual battery and oral sodomy. His attorney has said the accusers are either lying or the sex was consensual.

In closing arguments Friday, prosecutor Jim Swartz urged jurors to convict Burgess and recommend a long prison sentence.

“If you’re going to act like an animal, you’re going to be caged like an animal” he said.
Swartz suggested a sentence of at least three years on every count, with the exception of the rape and sodomy charges, which he said should each carry a 10-year sentence.

Defense attorney Steve Huddleston criticized investigators during his closing argument for failing to collect DNA evidence which could have exonerated the former sheriff. He also argued that Burgess’ accusers have sued him and hope a guilty verdict will transform their lawsuit into a payday.

Several female offenders have testified that they feared they would be sent to prison if they did not provide sexual favors to Burgess. One woman testified she and Burgess had sex two to three times a week over a 14-month period.

Burgess, 56, has said he had an affair with one former drug court defendant, but has denied the other allegations. He is free on $50,000 bail.

Under state law, a prisoner cannot legally consent to sexual relations with a jailer or anyone else who controls the conditions of the prisoner’s confinement.

The evidence against Burgess surfaced in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 12 former jail inmates alleging sheriff’s employees had them engage in wet T-shirt contests and offered cigarettes to those who would flash their breasts.

One Response

  1. In a nation wherein “In GOD We Trust” has become a mere creed on the money upon which it is printed, corruption and wickedness exist on both sides of the badge and the bars. Yet, are they bad men just because they made some bad choices? Do not all of us have A’s and F’s on our moral report cards? As I so stated on my blog, we can’t fix it IF we can’t face it. I dare anyone who wants to fix their F’s to read that textbook in sex education and then to trust in GOD…and that’s my final answer!

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