NORRISTOWN — A Franconia Township man faces several years of court supervision after he admitted to having unlawful contact, via a social media app, with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl but in reality was a law enforcement officer.
Sean Patrick Burke, 37, of the 100 block of Thomas Drive, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor in connection with incidents that occurred in January 2020.
Judge Thomas C. Branca also ordered Burke to have no unsupervised contact with minors and Burke will be under sex offender supervision. Burke also had to forfeit his cellphone.
Additionally, Burke faces a 25-year requirement to report his address to state police in order to comply with Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.
Burke was arrested as part of an undercover investigation conducted by members of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit who assumed the identity and characteristics of a 13-year-old girl on the mobile social media application Whisper.
The investigation of Burke began on Jan. 14, 2020, when Burke, using a Whisper profile, sent a private message to the undercover agent posing as the underage girl, according to the criminal complaint filed by Eric Barlow, a special agent with the attorney general’s office.
The investigator indicated to Burke that he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl, according to court documents. During the communications, Burke sent a photo of his penis to the purported child “after learning that he was communicating with a purported 13-year-old female child,” Barlow alleged.
“The photograph sent to the purported child shows the actor’s entire nude body including his penis,” Barlow alleged in the arrest affidavit.
Burke also discussed having oral sex with the purported child, Barlow alleged.
Authorities used a subpoena to obtain records that linked Burke to being the subscriber of the Whisper account that was communicating with the undercover agent.
When authorities went to Burke’s residence on Feb. 12, 2020, and confronted him about the allegations he identified the nude photo as his and consented to a search of his cellphone, according to court papers.
Burke stated that he and his girlfriend were fighting and that “he went on Whisper to blow off steam,” Barlow alleged in the criminal complaint.
“Burke stated that he remembered speaking to a 13-year-old female about performing oral sex on her and sending her a nude photo of himself,” Barlow alleged. “Burke stated that he knew it was wrong to have these communications and to send a nude photo of himself to a minor.”
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Michelle Laucella. Defense lawyer Elliot Cohen represented Burke.
Other charges of criminal use of a communication facility and dissemination of obscene or sexual materials to minors were dismissed against Burke.