The Garden City Telegram
4/1/2013
SOUTHWEST LIFE

AP: Ex-cadet at Kansas military school faces court hearing

WICHITA (AP) — A former cadet leader at a Kansas military school is expected in court this week to face charges of sexual battery against a younger student.

A preliminary hearing for David James Burke, 18, of McLean, Va., is scheduled Friday in Saline County District Court. He is charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of attempted aggravated criminal sodomy, according to court documents. Court filings show at least seven witnesses have been subpoenaed to testify.

The case stems from incidents that occurred in October at St. John's Military School in Salina involving another cadet age 16 or older.

Defense attorney Dick Blackwell didn't return a phone message seeking comment on Friday. But he has previously said that his client denies anything happened in the way of a felony.

The latest allegations come as the boarding school fights a separate federal lawsuit filed by 11 former cadets and their families. The students contend that the school's quasi-military cadet program, which gives higher-ranking cadets the power to discipline students, encourages physical and mental abuse.

The plaintiffs hail from California, Florida, Tennessee, Colorad, Texas and Illinois, and they filed the lawsuit last year. St. John's has denied a culture of abuse exists at the school and is fighting the lawsuit.

The allegations involved in the criminal case against Burke are not part of the ongoing civil lawsuit. The school has said it notified Salina police and other authorities when the allegations against Burke surfaced.

The aggravated sexual battery charges carry a penalty of about 2 1/2 years to 11 years in prison, while the attempted sodomy count carries 4 1/2 years to 20 years imprisonment.