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Detroit Priest Sentenced for Sex With Boy

November 02, 2002|From Associated Press

DETROIT — A Roman Catholic priest who admitted molesting at least a dozen boys going as far back as the 1940s pleaded no contest Friday to sexual conduct with a 13-year-old boy.

Robert Burkholder, 83, who lives in Hawaii, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years' probation. He also must register as a sex offender.

In August, Burkholder was charged with engaging in sexual conduct with the boy while the pair vacationed in Hawaii in 1986.

The trip was an eighth-grade graduation present to the boy, prosecutors said.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

The Archdiocese of Detroit says Burkholder has not been defrocked but is on a leave of absence and has been banned from wearing the collar and calling himself a priest.

Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan has branded Burkholder "one of the worst pedophiles we have ever had in this state."

Burkholder's attorney has said his client has dementia, a claim Duggan labeled a "sham."

"We just got carried away," Burkholder told the Detroit News, referring to the boy. "He might have been lonely. And priests are lonely persons, too. We need friendships, and kids love priests. I weakened. I was looking for affection."

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