Ryan J. Foley
The Associated Press
Mon, 21 Nov 2011 06:09 CST
Arrested: Authorities found school principal Robert Burke with more than 32,000 images of child pornography
A federal judge on Monday sentenced a former Iowa elementary school principal to 30 years in prison for secretly videotaping dozens of young male students using the bathroom, calling his actions a shocking abuse of trust and among the worst crimes against children she'd seen.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade said former Sageville Elementary School principal Robert Burke was a danger to the community who betrayed children, their parents and a society that puts great trust in school administrators. She said he deserved the maximum prison term after pleading guilty to producing child pornography in August.
Reade recounted how Burke, 43, hid a small video camera near a bathroom sink or on his own belt on 12 occasions between January and June to capture images of the genitals of at least 59 students between the ages of 5 and 11. She said he had one of the biggest collections of child pornography she'd ever heard of - 32,000 images and 12,000 videos, mostly of young boys performing sex acts.
"This is one of the most aggravating circumstances and crimes that I've ever seen," she said. "This, I must say, is the most depraved I have had for some time."
Reade issued the sentence, which also included a fine of $25,000, after six parents of boys who were taped urged her to lock him away. Speaking in open court without giving their names to protect their children's identities, they said their kids would be scarred for the rest of their lives after learning someone they trusted had violated their privacy in such a way.