OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
NOVEMBER 12, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORMER JACKSON COUNTY DEPUTY PLEADS GUILTY
TO CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION
FACES 14 YEARS IN PRISON FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING
TEEN GIRL WHILE SHE WAS DETAINED
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, and Tom E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, announced that a former Jackson County, Mo., sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty in federal court today to violating the civil rights of a teenage girl whom he sexually assaulted in his patrol car.
“Law enforcement officers have a sworn duty to uphold the law, but in this case a uniformed officer violated both his oath and the law by sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl while she was in his custody,” Whitworth said. “We will not tolerate such a heinous offense, especially by an officer abusing his position of authority. A violation of one person’s civil rights is a crime against the entire community. A long prison term will hold him accountable for his repugnant behavior and make it clear that nobody is above the law.”
“A law enforcement officer who abuses his authority by sexually assaulting a child not only violates the law but also the child’s civil rights and the public trust,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez for the Civil Rights Division said. “The Civil Rights Division will aggressively prosecute any person who, while purporting to act as a law enforcement officer, violates the most basic Constitutional rights of our citizens.”
Steven W. Burgess, 35, of Independence, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith this afternoon to the charge contained in an April 7, 2009 federal indictment. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government and Burgess agree that a sentence of 14 years in federal prison without parole is the appropriate disposition in this case. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
Burgess admitted that, while he was a deputy sheriff with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, he deprived a 15-year-old girl of her Constitutional rights by sexually assaulting her while she was in his custody.
Burgess, then on-duty and in uniform as a deputy sheriff, encountered the victim and some friends in Haynes Park in Sibley, Mo., at approximately 2 a.m. on July 24, 2007. Burgess told her friends to leave the park, but ordered her to stay at the park with him.
Burgess then put the victim in handcuffs and, while patting her down, inappropriately touched her in a sexual manner. Burgess removed the handcuffs and told her to get into the car, keeping the door open and her feet touching the ground outside the car. Burgess stood in front of her and compelled her to perform oral sex on him while she sat in his patrol vehicle. At one point, Burgess made her get on her knees to perform oral sex on him.
Afterward, Burgess took the victim to her aunt’s house. He told her that she could not tell anyone about the forced oral sex, or he would disclose that she had been caught in the park drinking. Once inside the house, she told her family what had happened and was immediately taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Burgess violated the victim’s right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, which includes the right to bodily integrity. Burgess used force against his victim and placed her in fear of death, serious bodily injury and kidnapping.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Michael Warner and Trial Attorney Eric L. Gibson with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division. It was investigated by the Jackson County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at