Complaint: Iowa principal hid camera in restroom

June 3, 2011 - 5:27 PM

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa elementary school principal charged Friday with receiving child pornography has admitted that he placed a hidden video camera in the school to get images of young boys using the bathroom, according to a criminal complaint.

Robert Burke, 43, the principal at Sageville Elementary School just north of Dubuque, was charged with one count of receiving child pornography. A criminal complaint says an FBI agent downloaded eight images child of pornography in April from a computer later traced to Burke's residence. At least three of the images involved boys who appeared to be between the ages of 8 and 10 performing oral sex.

Law enforcement officials served a search warrant at Burke's home on Friday morning, seizing his computer and some printed images depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct, according to the complaint. They say they have not had time to perform a forensic examination on the material yet.

The complaint also alleges Burke admitted during an interview with investigators to placing a camera in the school's bathroom.

"He stated the camera had produced video images of students who were using the bathroom," the complaint said, adding Burke denied ever having touched children in a sexual manner.

Burke admitted that he had been downloading child pornography using the Internet and a file-sharing program since January, the complaint said.

U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose urged parents and anyone with information relevant to the investigation to call her office.

Burke is expected to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Cedar. The charge he's facing carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.

Sageville Elementary is located a few miles north of Dubuque and has an enrollment this school year of 279 students between kindergarten and fifth grade, according to its website. Someone who answered the phone at the school declined comment.

Court records do not indicate whether Burke has an attorney.