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Federal court dismisses child porn charges in case against former Catholic school principal

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A U.S. magistrate judge dismissed the child pornography case against former Catholic school principal Marlan Burki on Wednesday.

According to court documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart dismissed without prejudice the criminal complaint against Burki, who one judge ruled earlier that authorities had probable cause to believe was “John Doe 42."

“All I can say is it was never him,” family member Christopher Burki said.

On Oct. 8, the judge ruled Burki would not be eligible for release as the case unfolds, saying that “based upon the information presented, and the explicit nature of the crime to a child who has yet to be identified, that the defendant needs to stay detained. There is a substantial risk of harm to the public,” court records state.

Burki of Tecumseh was the principal at All Saints School in Omaha from 2006 to 2018; and had also served as the principal of St. Joseph Catholic School in Beatrice.

Authorities just swooped in and arrested Burki, his attorney said.

“This is my 44th year as a lawyer, and this is one of the scariest cases I’ve been involved in,” attorney Steven Lefler said. “It wasn’t that a victim identified my client as 'the perve,’ as the perpetrator. It was somebody looked at some photographs and said, ‘this looks like him.’ ”

Lefler said it was “probably unrealistic” that Burki would be released Wednesday night.

“I’m in contact with Leavenworth, Kan., where my client is located, trying to arranged to make sure he gets transported back to his home here in Nebraska,” he said.

Lefler said he believes the threshold to file federal charges for child pornography needs to be higher.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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