Dubuque elementary principal arrested for child pornography; recording boy’s bathroom

Robert Burke, 43, principal of Sageville Elementary School in Dubuque, has been arrested on charges of downloading child pornography. During an interview, Burke also admitted to putting a video camera in the boy’s bathroom at his school.

Burke will appear in Cedar Rapids federal court at 4 p.m. Stay tuned for more information.

Full press release below.

Principal Claims to Have Secretly Video-Recorded Students in the Bathroom

Robert Burke, age 43, from Dubuque, Iowa, has been charged with one count of receipt of child pornography.  The charge is contained in a Complaint filed today in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids.

The Complaint alleges that, between about January and June 2011, Burke used a computer and the Internet to receive images of child pornography.  The Complaint alleges that, on April 10, 2011, an FBI agent in Washington D.C., downloaded eight depictions of child pornography from a computer that was later traced to Burke’s residence.

The Complaint also alleges Burke is the principal at Sageville Elementary School in Dubuque County.  The Complaint further alleges that, during an interview on June 3, 2011, Burke stated he had placed a hidden video camera in a boys’ bathroom at this school, and the camera had produced video images of students who were using the bathroom.  Burke allegedly stated he had not touched any children in a sexual manner.  The Complaint alleges law enforcement agents have not had the opportunity to perform a forensic examination of Burke’s computer and other electronic evidence seized on June 3, 2011, and the government does not, at this time, have evidence to contradict Burke’s statement that he had not touched any children in a sexual manner.

United States Attorney Stephanie M. Rose urged parents and anyone with concerns or information regarding this investigation to call the United States Attorney’s Office at (319) 363-6333.  Callers should ask to speak with Victim-Witness Coordinator Shari Konarske.

If convicted, Burke faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and supervised release following any imprisonment for at least 5 years and up to life.


Burke’s first appearance in federal court in Cedar Rapids for an initial appearance is set for today at 4:00 p.m.

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Tremmel and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office.

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is 11-MJ-124

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