You know it's not a good day when the Associated Press headline reads: "Hearing held in Custer County sex slave case" and the story is about you.
We can't help but imagine what it was like for former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess to see that. But maybe he has bigger fish to fry than skimming the newspaper over coffee. According to AP, he was ordered to stand trial on felony sex charges related to his long tenure as a lawman.
Burgess faces 35 charges, including 14 second-degree rape counts, five counts of bribery by a public official and seven counts of forcible oral sodomy, according to AP. Several female drug court participants testified against him, saying they feared if they did not submit to his alleged sexual demands, they would go to prison.
It works like this. Drug court participants are usually addicts facing multiple arrests or appearances over their addiction and are given a last chance before serious prison time by entering drug court. In drug court, they are monitored very carefully and required to attend frequent drug treatment/mental health-related counseling sessions, and slipups are often grounds for expulsion from the program (read: go directly to jail, do not pass go). Their progress is assessed to no small degree from whichever supervisory law official in whose custody they end up.
Enter Burgess. According to those testifying against him, he is alleged to have demanded many, many sexual favors from women in drug treatment.
Want some allegations? AP reported that one female inmate alleged Burgess provided alcohol and had sex with her during trips to Oklahoma City promoting the drug court program. The woman said she was afraid, so she had sex with him.
"I would have gone to prison if I hadn't," she reportedly told the court.
Another one testified Burgess visited her at motel rooms demanding sex.
"I just tried to black out the whole thing. It was bad," the woman testified, according to AP.
Inmates weren't the only ones who claim such behavior about Burgess. A former deputy for Burgess " now working for another law enforcement agency in Washington state " reportedly said she also had to put up with advances from the sheriff.
Before her first day on the job, she alleged, Burgess put his hand inside the back of her pants and touched her buttocks as she was being fitted for her uniform. (And they let the guys watch that? Hmmm.) AP reported the testimony:
"It's degrading to have someone who just hired you to stick his hands down your pants," the woman said.
"Why didn't you turn around and knock him out right there?" a defense attorney asked.
"I needed a job," the woman said.
The preliminary hearing concluded, Burgess was bound over for trial, according to the AP. He faces up to 467 years if convicted on all counts. His defense attorney said Burgess is eager to clear his name.