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Michigan Arraigns Former Priest Arrested In Hawaii

Oct 2, 2002 | AP

A former Roman Catholic priest, who was extradited to Michigan from his home in Hawai'i, was arraigned yesterday on criminal charges of sexual assault.

Robert Burkholder, 82, appeared in 17th District Court in front of Judge Charlotte L. Wirth in this Wayne County community. An innocent plea was entered on his behalf.

He is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Burkholder, of Makaha, is accused of assaulting a 13-year-old Detroit area boy in 1986 when the two were on a trip to Hawai'i.

His preliminary examination is scheduled for Nov. 12. At that time, Wirth also is to assess whether Burkholder is mentally competent to stand trial.

Burkholder's attorney, Irving Tukel, has said his client has dementia. Burkholder was released on $10,000 personal bond, and is staying "with people who are trying to help him," Tukel said.

Tukel also argued that the charges should be dropped because the alleged abuse occurred in Hawai'i, not Redford Township.

Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan has branded Burkholder "one of the worst pedophiles we have ever had in this state."

Burkholder is one of four Roman Catholic priests who formerly worked in the Archdiocese of Detroit who were charged Aug. 27 with criminal sexual conduct in cases that date from the 1960s to the 1980s.

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