Former priest arrested on child porn charge

July 8, 2010 11:19:06 AM PDT
A former Antiochian Orthodox priest is in jail, accused of having child pornography. He was still in his leadership position when the illegal images were found on a computer at the St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in Spring. As construction is underway at the St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in Spring, its congregation is dealing with a major setback with the arrest of its former priest.

Stephen Burke, 53, was taken into custody outside his home Wednesday, a couple of miles from the church grounds. He was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography.

His next door neighbors were stunned by the charges.

"It does make you think, you know. Somebody right there beside you and doing something like that, it really makes you think that anything could go on right under your nose and you'd never know it," said his neighbor, William Roberson.

"I think he's a priest... and the image that he portrayed was just totally nothing I would've expected," said another neighbor, Felicia Rogers.

Burke's term lasted about a year and a half. He was removed from the church in January. Court documents show church members found the porn on his church-issued computer while making repairs.

Burke was assigned to the church in July 2008 by the archdiocese that's based in New Jersey. According to the parish president, there are no youth programs at this church other than Sunday School programs, but Burke was not involved in those classes.

One of Burke's neighbors, who is also a church pastor, said the charges go beyond Burke's title.

"When you have people at that age targeting our babies, it's a little more than he was a priest," pastor Carl Smith said. "It's kind of the mindset that's sitting in our way."

Burke came to the priesthood apparently later in life. His own children are grown. His bond has been set at $20,000.


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