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.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain