Commissioners fail to reach settlement in inmates’ suit against former Custer Co. Sheriff Michael Burgess

BY RON JACKSON Modified: May 4, 2010 at 7:12 am •  Published: May 4, 2010
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ARAPAHO — Custer County commissioners took no action Monday on a lawsuit involving female inmates who claim they were sexually abused by former Sheriff Michael Burgess.

A settlement in the civil case could cost taxpayers more than a million dollars, sources told The Oklahoman.

Commissioners Darrell Dupree, Steve Tompkins and James Covey were advised by the county’s attorneys to take no action at this time.

Burgess, 57, is serving 79 years in prison on convictions including kidnapping, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and rape.

He was accused of sexually abusing female inmates and drug court participants in exchange for favors. A Major County juror convicted Burgess in January 2009.

The criminal trial took place 14 months after a lawsuit was filed against Burgess and the county in federal court. Burgess has long contended his innocence.

No reason was given for the county commissioners’ inaction. The commissioners said they met for more than three hours April 27 at a settlement conference with attorneys for the plaintiffs in Oklahoma City but declined to elaborate.