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  Two More Men Accuse Late Pueblo Ex-Priest of Abuse Similar
The Pair Say Andrew Burke, Who Recently Committed Suicide, Had

By Kirk Mitchell
Denver Post
October 14, 2005

When he was 10, a Denver man said, he felt guilty that Pueblo Catholic priest Andrew Burke would become sexually aroused while doing experiments on him.

In his mind, the priest was above reproach, so it must have been his fault. It wasn't until years later when he was an adult that he saw the flaw in his logic.

The man, now 42, and a relative, Brian Cortez, 30, are the latest to say they were abused by Burke years ago during sexually motivated experiments.

A former altar boy previously accused Burke of blindfolding and tying him up for a study he was doing.

Burke, who had been the director of social work at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, fatally shot himself three weeks ago just as revelations about his conduct with the former altar boy were about to be made public.

The Denver man said that after Burke killed himself, he contacted the Pueblo Diocese, which supervised Burke when he was a priest from 1968 to 1973. Cortez said the Catholic church should have helped Burke, who was his godfather, after the former priest wrote a letter in 1973 admitting he had a psychosexual behavior disorder.

Diocese spokeswoman Theresa Farley reported the alleged abuse involving the Denver man to police and offered him counseling. She hadn't heard about the case involving Cortez, in which the alleged abuse occurred 20 years after Burke left the priesthood.

"This is not something we take lightly," Farley said.

The latest stories are similar to the one told by the former altar boy, who said Burke had him change into swimming trunks, blindfolded him and rubbed ice on his body and tickled him.

The Denver man, who is not being identified because he says he's a victim of sexual assault, said he met Burke when he went to the hospital for a bloody nose. Burke said Mass at the hospital.

The priest then invited the boy to do chores at his house.

He told the boy that he was studying to be a counselor and needed to perform psychological tests using hot and cold temperatures, the Denver man said.

On a weekly basis for the next four years, Burke would have him change into one of several gym shorts he had at his house, he said. The priest would blindfold him and have him lie on the floor.

Burke would kneel down and pin the boy between his knees and rub him with ice, tickle him and ask him whether he saw any colors while he was touched. A few times the boy could see what Burke was doing through a slit under the blindfold and could tell the priest was aroused, he said.

"You can't imagine what this has done to me," the Denver man said.

The meetings lasted at least until he was 14.

The Denver man decided to tell his story after he learned Cortez, who wants his named used in this story, also had been abused. He said he had invited Cortez to attend Burke's funeral and the younger man told him he wouldn't go because of what Burke had done to him.

Cortez said that the former priest was at his grandmother's home and saw his picture on the wall. Burke later asked Cortez to mow his lawn and pick weeds at his house.

Burke made him meals, took him fishing, bought him a suit and took him to a cabin for a vacation. They were so close, Cortez asked Burke to be his godfather.

Claiming he wanted to help Cortez concentrate for competitive diving, Burke blindfolded the Pueblo High School student and had him lie down in his swimming trunks. He then rubbed ice on his chest and tickled him, Cortez said. The former priest would climb on top of him and grind on him, he said.

"I'm upset he coerced me and took advantage of my naivete," said Cortez, who is now a pharmacy technician. "I'm upset that no one tried to help him."

Staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-820-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com.

 
 

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