Ex-priest appears in court on child porn charge

September 16, 2013 10:23:56 AM PDT
A different setting for a former priest -- Stephen Burke was in court Friday morning on charges of possessing child pornography. The choice of clothing in the courtroom is usually calculated to give a favorable impression of the defendant. This defendant donned attire that would usually be beyond reproach. But this isn't your typical defendant.

Burke was removed as priest of St. Anthony the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church in Spring back in January, but still he wore his clerical garments to court on Friday.

Prosecutor Darin Darby said, "I don't know. I mean, if that's how he dresses every day, that's how he dresses every day. That's fine. That's his choice."

Burke is accused of two counts of possession of child pornography. It was allegedly found on his church computer. The state claims it consists of a few images of young girls in various stages of undress. Burke was allegedly unable to offer an explanation for the images, either to church members or investigators.

"His explanation, based on the police investigation, was inconsistent with what was found on the computer that he used," explained Darby. "Several of the images included, as probable cause states, images of children under the age of 12, also one image of the defendant undressed."

Defense attorney David Breston said, "We look forward to clearing Father Burke in a jury trial."

Authorities don't believe Burke knew any of the girls in these images that were allegedly found on his computer.

The question is whether he will wear his priest clothing at that trial. Defense attorney and former prosecutor Kim Ogg says the clerical attire could work against him.

"If it's learned by that same jury, where the false impression has been created, that he's not active in the priesthood, it'll be an indication of his lack of credibility and that's what he risks," Ogg explained.

Burke's lawyer didn't have any comment on his client's choice of clothing. Burke remains free on $20,000 bond.

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