A 48-year-old Blaine man was acquitted yesterday (Thursday, June 14) by an Anoka County District Court jury of all six felony criminal sexual conduct charges he was facing.
Damian Blake Burkhalter had been accused of having improper relations with a then 14-year-old girl, but a jury found him not guilty.
Burkhalter was charged in June 2011 with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The case was handled by Assistant Washington County Attorney Karin McCarthy instead of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office because of a potential conflict of interest.
Assistant Washington County Attorney Steve Povolny issued a statement saying, “While we of course are disappointed with the verdict, we do accept the jury’s decision.”
A phone message was left with Burkhalter’s attorney Jill Brisbois, but she could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, the girl told a therapist that she had been sexually abused by her youth pastor, Burkhalter.
Kandiyohi County Child Protection reported this to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office on June 7, 2011. She alleged the incidents had taken place between June and November of 2010 when she was 14 years old.
This story will be updated once Brisbois and Burkhalter can be reached for comment.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org