Former Dubuque principal charged with downloading child porn will remain in jail

CEDAR RAPIDS - A detention hearing was cancelled Tuesday in federal court for a former Dubuque elementary school principal accused of downloading child pornography and videotaping students in the boy’s restroom at school.

Former Sageville Elementary School Principal Robert Burke, 43, of Dubuque, who pleaded not guilty last Friday in U.S. District Court to one count receiving child pornography, waived his right to preliminary hearing and has agreed to be detained in jail pending trial, according to an order filed Monday. A trial date hasn’t been set at this time.

The Dubuque School Board fired Burke on Saturday in an emergency meeting after he was charged. Superintendent Larie Godinez recommended firing Burke after discovering he admitted his guilt to investigators.

An FBI agent in Washington D.C. found eight downloaded images of child pornography April 10, which was traced back to Burke’s computer at his residence in Dubuque, according to the criminal complaint. The images included 8- and 10-year-old boys performing oral sex.

During a search of Burke’s home last Friday, authorities seized his computer and other items, according to the complaint. Printed images were also found and some depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Burke during an interview admitted he had downloaded the child pornography since January, according to the complaint. He also admitted to placing a hidden video camera in the boy’s restroom at Sageville Elementary. Burke said he never touched any of the children in a sexual manner, only produced the video images of students.

If convicted, Burke faces five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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