FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – A man has been charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate after the two were placed in the same jail cell alone on an Indian reservation in Arizona, federal court documents show.
Emmanuel Burnette was jailed Saturday at the White Mountain Apache Detention Center on tribal charges of assault and being under the influence of alcohol when the incident occurred. He now is charged federally with two counts of engaging in a sexual act with a woman against her will. He’s scheduled to appear in court Friday in Flagstaff.
The episode highlights what has become a cause of concern at tribal jails on Indian reservations.
Many tribal jails are decades old and face issues with overcrowding, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, and are plagued by staffing shortages, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of the Interior Inspector General. It’s unclear what led correctional officers at the White Mountain Apache jail to have Burnette share a cell with a female.
Tribal officials did not immediately return messages left Thursday by The Associated Press. The FBI and the federal prosecutor declined to comment on the case.
Tribes have begun to take on the building and renovation of jails on their reservations but generally rely on the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to staff them. The White Mountain Apache Tribe operates the detention center in Whiteriver under a contract with the BIA. The tribe was awarded nearly $950,000 in stimulus funding in 2009 to renovate the adult and juvenile detention centers, but federal data shows the project still remains in the design stage.
The tribe’s jail is one of 14 in Indian Country that accounted for more than half of all inmates held in tribal jails at midyear 2011, according to another federal report.
New jails are scheduled to open this year in the Navajo Nation towns of Tuba City in northeastern Arizona and Crownpoint in northwestern New Mexico. Jails on the reservations currently can hold a combined 50 people, which means that hardly any inmates serve out full sentences.
Tribal jails generally can hold people only for misdemeanor crimes that carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail. Law enforcement on the Fort Apache reservation typically deals with domestic violence, sexual assaults induced by alcohol and drugs and a growing problem with violent crime among juveniles, authorities have said. Major crimes are referred to federal prosecutors.
According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, a video at the White Mountain Apache jail showed the 21-year-old Burnette lying down beside the 23-year-old woman and engaging in a sexual act before corrections officers entered the cell and separated them. The woman told authorities that Burnette said to her that “it’s OK, it’s OK to have you, they put me in here.”
The woman, who was being held on tribal charges of public intoxication, didn’t say anything to Burnette but later told authorities that she tried to push him away and that she was scared not only of him but the corrections officers, the affidavit states.
Burnette told an FBI agent that he was moved to the cell with the woman after he was banging his head on the door of another cell and kicked it several times. Burnette said he knew what he did with the woman was wrong, according to the affidavit.
Burnette has been appointed a federal public defender. She did not return calls for comment.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier