PICKENS COUNTY — Norman Keith Burgess will spend the next 37 and a half years in prison after being found guilty on three sex charges on Wednesday.
A jury found Burgess guilty on two counts of criminal sexual conduct and one count of committing a lewd act. The offenses took place between November 2001 and March 2007, according to the prosecution.
“We’re very pleased with the result,” said Assistant Solicitor Sam Tooker. “We’re pleased with the sentence and we’re pleased that the jury found him guilty. Justice was certainly done.”
According to the prosecution, Burgess had a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter before she was of the age of consent (16 years old). The prosecution described several “forcible” sexual encounters between Burgess and the victim.
The victim testified for the prosecution and was distraught several times on the stand. She claimed trying several methods to stop the abuse, but insisted that Burgess was too persistent. It is the policy of The Easley Progress not to name the victims of sexual crimes.
The sexual encounters resulted in Burgess fathering the child of his stepdaughter. Burgess denied being the father until DNA tests confirmed it, according to prosecution.
Tooker said the victim did not feel comfortable coming forward for several years.
“Nobody was made aware of this until 2007 when the victim had finally had enough and revealed to someone at her work, her family and to law enforcement what had been happening to her,” Tooker said. “(Burgess), for a period of five years, intentionally and systematically raped her in her home where she should feel safe.”
Defense attorney John Abdalla called what happened a “shame,” but said Burgess is not guilty.
“It’s a shame that this happened. There’s no way around it,” said Abdalla. “I’ve been with Keith now for five years. Keith may be a lot of things, but forcibly raping his stepdaughter is not something he is guilty of.”
Abdalla said the stepdaughter was of legal age when encounters took place.
“It is certainly improper — it is bad morally — to father a child with your stepdaughter,” Abdalla said. “She was over 17, however, which is the legal age of consent. This is a classic case of he said-she said.”
Tooker said the victim has gotten better each day she has been separated from Burgess, whom she lived with from the time she was 8-years-old.
“She is continuing to get better every day. She was one way when she was living with him, but she has been away from him for five years now and she is a different person,” Tooker said. “Why would it change if he isn’t the controlling, demeaning, disgusting, violent rapist that she is accusing him of being?”
Burgess was quiet and shook his head when the verdict was read.