39-year-old active-duty military member stationed at NAS Lemoore arrested in rape case at ski resort


FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE/KGPE) – A 39-year-old man who is an active duty military member stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore was arrested on rape charges, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said that on the night of Feb. 17, deputies were dispatched to China Peak Mountain Resort in Lakeshore for a report of a sex offense. 

The Sheriff’s said they arrested John Burton on a felony rape charge on Feb. 28. 

During the investigation, deputies discovered that Burton, a hotel guest, learned of a woman who was staying alone in another hotel room.

“Burton was able to sneak into this woman’s room after learning she was staying there by herself. Then he took advantage of her, sexually assaulting her,” Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Employees became aware of the offense and contacted the Sheriff’s Office on behalf of the victim.

Tim Cohee the manager at the resort said many of the staff members are housed on-site, so they are able to provide security around the clock. He said the employees were vigilant when they realized something was wrong.

“That’s when our security manager basically broke the chain — when it was clear what was happening in the room was probably not what anybody wanted to happen. He held the man in the room until the sheriff’s department arrived,” he said.

Detectives said they interviewed Burton, the victim and other witnesses.

“We want to give a lot of credit to those employees at the China Peak Resort. They did a fantastic job by acting very quickly, taking this thing seriously and getting us involved,” Botti said.

NAS Lemoore sent a statement reading:

“We can confirm that Petty Officer First Class John Burton is stationed at NAS Lemoore.  We take this allegation very seriously. The Navy is and will continue to fully cooperate with local authorities, who have investigative lead. The Sailor is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Burton was booked into the Fresno County Jail on a felony rape charge. His bail was set at $50,000. He posted bond and was released the following day, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives are investigating the possibility that other victims may exist and are asking for anyone with information about Burton to come forward. You may contact Detective Leticia Willow at (559) 600-8226.

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April 29 2021 12:00 am

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