Ex-teacher gets 20 years of probation

Published 11:45am Friday, February 22, 2013

AUSTIN — A former Southgate Elementary School teacher suspected of molesting two students in 2010 was placed on 20 years of supervised probation Thursday in Mower County District Court.

Richard Dale Burch, 56, was convicted of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13 and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct with nonconsensual sexual contact. Charges for first-, second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct were dismissed.

According to a court complaint, Burch touched an 8-year-old girl’s genital area while supervising a bus trip on Dec. 17, 2010. Burch admitted he hugged students if they initiated contact, bought them candy and allowed them to sit on his knee. Burch apparently called the girl’s parents around five times asking if the girl could come on the bus trip. He also gave the girl, her sister and their parents gift cards for Christmas.

According to court documents, Burch asked the girl to sit in his deer stand with him in fall 2010, but the parents did not permit her to do so.

Burch is also accused of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old on numerous occasions over the last few years. The girl, who is mentally and physically disabled, told police Burch had rubbed her leg several times on the bus. Burch reportedly took the girl and her friends swimming in the summer and put his hand inside her swimsuit bottoms when throwing her in the pool, according to a court complaint.

Among probation, Burch must complete a sex offender treatment program, register as a predatory offender and refrain from Internet use or contact with minors.