Federal Jury Convicts Claremore Man of 4 Counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Minor by Force and Threat in Indian Country
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma
A federal jury today convicted a man for sexually abusing a 13-year-old minor in his Claremore home in 2014 and 2015, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Gary Dumont Riggs, 77, was found guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor by force and threat in Indian County.
“Today, a federal jury sent Gary Riggs and other child predators a message that victims will be heard and the sexual abuse of children will not be tolerated within our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “As in so many of these cases, this victim, now a young adult, bravely faced her abuser in federal court and told her story. She is a survivor.”
"One of the most important missions of the FBI is to keep our children safe from predators like Mr. Riggs," said Special Agent in Charge Edward Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. "Today's conviction is a step in the right direction in the pursuit of justice for the victim of his predatory crimes."
According to the indictment, Riggs raped and otherwise sexually assaulted the victim at least three times between May 1, 2014, and Sept. 1, 2014, and at least one other time from Dec. 1, 2014, to Jan. 31, 2015. At the time of the abuse, Riggs was 70 years old. In May 2015, the victim revealed the abuse to a classmate who then reported the crimes to authorities. When speaking to an investigator, the girl revealed the assaults along with several other abusive incidents that began when she was 12.
When interviewed by law enforcement in May 2015, Riggs eventually admitted to several incidents where he inappropriately touched the victim’s genitals and admitted that he made her touch his genitals and perform sex acts on him. He told the investigator that he had to fight temptation every day. He then stated that he absolutely committed the sexual assaults of his own free will.
In 2022, the victim also disclosed further incidents of abuse. She described how Riggs would touch her any chance he could. During her testimony at trial, she said that she did not initially disclose all of the abuse out of self-preservation, explaining that at the time of initial disclosure, she felt if she revealed even half of the sexual abuse that occurred that no one would believe her. She also described how she began cutting herself as a way to cope with the trauma she had endured. She explained that she hoped the physical pain would detract from the emotional pain she felt. The victim then described how she has since learned healthy ways to cope with the trauma and has moved forward in a positive direction.
In closing, the defense argued that the victim's recollection of the events was inconsistent and allowed for reasonable doubt. The defense further claimed that investigators rushed to judgement and asked Riggs leading questions, which he simply repeated when answering them in 2015. Federal prosecutors countered stating that law enforcement used well established investigative techniques when interviewing the defendant and cited examples of Riggs providing independent details of the abuse to investigators that were not stated in their questions.
Prosecutors asserted that the defendant abused his position of trust and used his size and physical restraint when he sexually assaulted the victim repeatedly. In her final statement to the jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Todd explained that in his own words, Riggs told law enforcement that “I wish it had never happened, but it did.” Todd then suggested that no one wished the abuse hadn’t happened more than the victim herself…but it did.
After two hours of deliberating, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all four counts.
The FBI and Verdigris Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stacey P. Todd and Niko A. Boulieris are prosecuting the case.
Updated May 25, 2022
Indian Country Law and Justice
Project Safe Childhood