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Burger to plead guilty in child sex abuse case next month

Posted: August 24, 2012 - 12:04am
Defendant Joshua David Burger, 37, who is accused of four counts of sexual abuse of a minor, has a scheduled change of plea hearing next month in Juneau Superior Court. His September 4 jury trial was vacated.  Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Defendant Joshua David Burger, 37, who is accused of four counts of sexual abuse of a minor, has a scheduled change of plea hearing next month in Juneau Superior Court. His September 4 jury trial was vacated.

A Juneau man accused of sexually abusing a minor will likely be entering into a last-minute plea deal.

Court records show the jury trial for Joshua David Burger, which was slated to begin Sept. 4, has been vacated. A ‘change of plea’ hearing is now scheduled for Sept. 6.

The new hearing will be in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg.

District Attorney David Brower did not have any comment when asked questions about the case in his office at the Juneau courthouse Thursday.

Thirty-seven-year-old Burger, a former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. employee, is charged with four felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor from 2004 to 2007.

Two of those counts are first-degree charges, which are unclassified felonies that can carry up to 99 years in prison. The other two are second-degree charges, which are class ‘B’ felonies.

The case has dragged on for almost a year and a half, during which time four different jury trials have been scheduled, only to be cancelled later.

The delays in the case have prompted the alleged victim’s mother to publicly beg the judge in court to let the case go to trial as quickly as possible so justice can take place and a healing process may begin.

The first two trial dates were pushed back due to extensive motion filings. The third was scheduled for this spring, but was vacated after Pallenberg ruled inadmissible evidence was presented to the grand jury. That dropped the original indictment filed against Burger, prompting the state of Alaska to convene another grand jury to re-indict him. The September trial was scheduled then.

Burger was supposed to appear in Juneau court Thursday for a trial call, but that was also cancelled in light of the recent turn of events.

Brower said Burger will return to Juneau for the change of plea hearing.

Until then, Burger remains in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he was allowed to stay at his mother’s house. His mother, Barbara Sager, is a court-approved third-party custodian, and she previously posted her son’s $500,000 cash bail.

Burger was originally indicted in April 2011 on 100 counts of first-degree sex abuse of a minor.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263.

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