'Safari Joe' Estes bound over for trial on rape, molestation charges

MAYES COUNTY, Okla. - A trial date has been set for popular Green Country exotic animal owner "Safari Joe" Estes arrested last summer on child sex abuse charges.

The 46-year-old appeared in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing at which time the court bound him over on two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of lewd molestation.

His trial date is set for Jan. 16.

Estes turned himself in to the Mayes County Sheriff's Office early in August after being charged with one count of rape by instrumentation, two counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16 and two counts of lewd molestation.

The rape charge came from an alleged incident in 2005 with a 10- or 11-year-old child and the other charges from additional incidents occurring between 2005 and 2007.

Then late in September, more charges – including one rape by instrumentation – were filed when a woman came forward and told investigators Estes abused her New Year's Eve night or early New Year's Day while she was unconscious nearly five years ago.

Unlike the other accusers which were under age 16 at the time of the incidents, this woman was older than 18.

The abuse allegedly took place as far back as seven years ago on or near the wildlife sanctuary Estes runs in Adair.

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