A former Macon County youth sports coach was sentenced to 33 to 50 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to sex crimes against a child. Christopher Lee Burk was sentenced in Macon County court and will be spending at least the next three decades incarcerated by the North Carolina Department of Corrections.
“Burk pled guilty to three counts of sexual offense on a child by an adult, three counts of first degree sexual exploitation of a child, one count of child abuse by committing a sexual offense, and three counts of indecent liberties,” said Assistant District Attorney Ashley Welch. “He received an active sentence of 33 years minimum to 50 years maximum. On the three indecent liberties charges he received three, 16 to 29 month sentences and those were suspended and he will be on five years of supervised probation on those if he lives long enough to serve his active sentence. He must be on satellite based monitoring for life and must register for 30 years after his release as a sex offender.”
Superior Court Judge Brad Letts took Burk’s plea, and no one testified in the case because of the plea deal. Welch provided the court with the factual basis in the case and Sheriff Robbie Holland spoke to the court about his office’s investigation.
“This investigation would have never come to a successful conclusion if not for the bravery of three little girls, the support of their families, two dedicated MCSO detectives, and a great prosecutor,” said Holland. “This was not the sentence we would have preferred but it kept three small children from being forced to testify as could have been required.”
During Holland’s address to the court last Friday, he stated that Burk selfishly feels his sentence is unfair since it seems greater than what drug dealers and murderers would receive. As he addressed the judge, Holland reportedly looked at Burk and told him he was mistaken about that and told Burk he was nothing less than a coward for what he did to victims and deserved everything coming to him and much more.
The Macon County Sheriff’s Department began their investigation into Burk on March 11, 2013. Burk was first arrested on April 12, 2013, at the Asheville Airport and charged with six counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Burk had been working out of town as an engineer, often flying between Atlanta and Asheville.
Original warrants in the Burk Case stated that Burk was charged with multiple counts of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor after he “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously did use, induce, coerce, encourage and facilitate an unknown female minor under 10 years of age, to engage in sexual activity, a sexual act other than intercourse for a live performance and the purpose of producing material contacting visual representation depicting this activity.”
With the help of the State Bureau of Investigation, MCSO detectives found dozens of images on computers seized from Burk’s residence that led to his arrest. During the investigation, officers found several photos and videos involving the sexual exploitation of minors that appeared to have taken place in the back seat of Burk's 2004 Toyota Tacoma truck. Officers seized Burk's truck on April 29, 2013 to be used as evidence during the investigation.
As the investigation into Burk continued, 56 total charges were filed by May 2013, including charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, attempted rape of a child, attempted incest of a child, and crimes against nature.
Welch said that the verdict was not a surprise and was established as a way to prevent the victims in the case from having to testify. “I was as satisfied as much as I could be because I negotiated the plea and put the sentence in the transcript, so we knew what he was going to get going into the plea,” said Welch. “There is never really any full satisfaction in these cases because you can't undo the damage that's been done to children who have been irreparably damaged in the way Burk damaged these children and their families. However, I am grateful that he admitted his guilt and these children did not have to testify at a trial.”
Welch noted that the court system would not have been able to receive this outcome if it “were not for the strength and bravery of these families and the outstanding investigation conducted by the sheriff's office and the SBI.”