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By David M. Bresnahan
August 28, 2002

DETROIT -- Former Catholic priest Robert Burkholder, 82, admited he has had homosexual relationships with as many as two dozen young boys, but he says there was nothing wrong with what he did because "it was consensual."

"The boy likes the priest because he's friendly and kind," said Burkholder in an interview with the Detroit News.

Charges were filed Tuesday against Burkholder, who now lives in Honolulu. He was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a 13-year-old boy in 1986. The charges were made after the boy, now an adult, recently reported the incidents to police.

The retired priest admitted to the Detroit News that he had homosexual relationship with as many as 24 boys between the ages of 11 and 13, and that he had always kept the incidents a secret.

"You don't communicate with anybody else about it," he said. "(But) it takes two to tango. It was always a two-way thing. The boys work in the rectory with the priest and you just get friendly. You sit down in the rectory and have a Coke. It's a mutual deal ... an affectionate thing and a friendly thing."

Burkholder admitted to fondling and oral sex with boys, which he called acts of affection that the boys wanted and agreed to.

He spoke openly about his acts of homosexual child molestation, but tried to justify what he did. He also said he never had sexual relations with any girls.

"It's a friendship between two people that has been made into something horrible, rotten. People are trying by hook or by crook to make me look bad. Some of the accusations are true, but so what? I was a priest -- a good priest -- who had a weakness,"

Burkholder said in the interview. He said he remembered the boy who filed the charges. The incidents took place in the St. Robert Bellarmine parish in 1986. He said he and the boy "just got carried away." Burkholder tried to place some of the blame on the boy by saying he might have been lonely and in need of affection. He admitted that he was himself lonely and looking for affection saying, "I weakened."

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