Exotic animal exhibitor "Safari" Joe Estes to face trial on sex-crimes charges
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 8:00 AM
PRYOR - A longtime exotic animal exhibitor must stand trial on sex-crimes charges involving victims reportedly as young as 10, a judge ruled Thursday.
After the second day of a preliminary hearing that started Dec. 21, Mayes County Special Judge Rebecca Gore bound over "Safari" Joe Matthew Estes, 46, of Adair on two charges of rape by instrumentation and one lewd molestation count.
The victims listed in one rape count and the lewd molestation charge are children who were between 10 and 12 at the time, Assistant District Attorney Marny Hill said outside the courtroom. The victim listed in the other rape count is a woman in her 30s, the prosecutor said.
Gore found insufficient evidence to move forward with three other charges against Estes: one lewd molestation count and two counts of lewd or indecent acts with a child younger than 16.
Prosecutors announced their intent to appeal the judge's findings on those counts.
Gore scheduled a Jan. 16 arraignment for Estes - also known as Joe Perez and Joe Seaman - who has been out of jail on bond since his August arrest.
Estes has spent more than 15 years rescuing and rehabilitating exotic animals and has operated a 200-acre sanctuary three miles north of Adair. He still solicits business - such as exhibiting the animals at children's parties - through his website, Hill noted.
The acts for which Gore found probable cause are alleged to have occurred from May 1, 2006, to Jan. 1, 2009, according to prosecutors and court records.
One rape charge alleges that an adult victim was unconscious at a New Year's Eve party, and another rape count alleges that the crime occurred in a pickup.
The remaining lewd molestation charge alleges inappropriate touching while a girl was in a bathtub.
Stan Monroe, Estes' attorney, asked that all six charges be dismissed, citing such potential problems as venue and insufficient evidence.
Two of the listed victims testified in December, Hill said.
Gary Stansill, a longtime Tulsa Police Department sex crimes investigator and now an investigator for the District Attorney's Office in Mayes, Rogers and Craig counties, testified Thursday.
In October, prosecutors filed notice to present evidence of another sexual assault they say Estes committed in Tulsa County in February 1999, records show.
That assault occurred when Estes was a massage therapist in Tulsa and involved a 16-year-old girl who had a gift certificate for a massage, documents allege. He is accused of touching the girl inappropriately.
He was charged with sexual battery and ultimately received a sentencing deferral, Hill said.
After hearing reports of Estes' being charged in 2012, a woman told Mayes County investigators that the defendant had tried to put his hand down her pants 10 years earlier, when she was about 14, documents state.
That episode is alleged to have happened in Estes' vehicle after he offered to take the child to a mall to buy her a bathing suit on the condition that she "model it for him," court records state.
Original Print Headline: Animal exhibitor due trial in sex case
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
"Safari" Joe Matthew Estes: He will stand trial on two charges of rape by instrumentation and one count of lewd molestation.