Image: Sheriff charged
Former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess, who faces 35 felony charges, including 14 counts of second-degree rape, leaves the courthouse in Arapaho, Okla., during a break Tuesday.
updated 8/13/2008 2:57:25 PM ET 2008-08-13T18:57:25

Former female inmates of the Custer County jail testified Wednesday that ex-Sheriff Mike Burgess demanded sex from them in exchange for his help in getting them into a drug court rehabilitation program.

The inmates testified on the second day of a preliminary hearing that will determine whether Burgess is held over for trial on 35 felony charges that accuse him of rape and other inappropriate sexual behavior with female inmates.

One former inmate testified that Burgess ordered her to perform sexual acts on him in his office, and also picked her up at her home, drove her to a remote location and demanded sex.

Another woman testified that Burgess visited her at motel rooms and demanded sex. "I just tried to black out the whole thing. It was bad," the woman said.

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Among the felony charges Burgess is facing are 14 counts of second-degree rape, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy and five counts of bribery by a public official.

His attorneys maintain he is innocent. Burgess resigned as sheriff in April from the position he had held since 1994.

On Tuesday, a former deputy testified that Burgess groped her and grabbed her buttocks several times while she was employed at the sheriff's office.

Jennifer Tyler, now a deputy in the state of Washington, testified that when she was being fitted for a uniform the sheriff put his hand down the back of the trousers and touched her waistline and buttocks.

Evidence against Burgess surfaced in a federal court lawsuit filed on behalf of 12 former jail inmates that alleged sheriff's employees had them engage in wet T-shirt contests and offered cigarettes to women who would flash their breasts.

The lawsuit filed last year claims Burgess told one drug court participant he would have her sent to prison if she didn't comply with his sexual demands.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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