LIBERTY — State Police arrested a Casey County man Wednesday, who had been closely tied to the Galilean Children’s Home for more than two decades, for allegedly raping an intellectually disabled woman who is a resident of the home.
Michael E. Burt, 62, of Liberty is charged with 10 counts of first degree rape of someone incapable of consent who is physically helpless and 20 counts of first degree sodomy of someone incapable of consent who is physically helpless with serious physical injury. A press release from State Police Post 15 in Columbia states the alleged crimes took place between June 2011 and May 2012.
Burt pleaded not guilty to the charges during arraignment Thursday in Casey District Court.
Galilean Home founder and director Jerry Tucker said the victim was one of his adopted daughters who is now in her 30s but has an intellectual capacity similar to that of a 7-year-old. He said Burt had been employed at the home for 22 years until he was fired last month for making inappropriate comments to other residents of the home, which is located on South Fork Church Road in southern Casey County.
Tucker said Burt’s wife still serves in the main office as the home’s medical director and his oldest son is a maintenance worker. The family apparently lived on the property for many years.
“He was like part of the family for a long time,” Tucker said.
In the police report, the arresting officer said he followed up on a complaint from the Green County Department of Social Services by interviewing three residents of the Galilean Home. The victim, who still lives on the property, reported engaging in sexual acts with Burt on multiple dates.
Burt admitted to engaging in consensual sexual acts with the victim multiple times, according to the report.
Tucker said he and his wife Sandy, who is now deceased, established the Galilean Children’s Home as an official non-profit in the early 1980s but began their mission of caring for and often adopting children from around the world who were abused, neglected or suffering from medical conditions, more than 40 years ago. In the years since, the organization has opened the Galilean Christian Academy and branched out to include the Bread of Life Cafe in Liberty, where children from the home work, and the Liberty Trading Post, a thrift store where the home sells secondhand goods.
The Galilean Home also operates Born Free Ministries, Inc. and maintains homes on the property to care for infants whose mothers are incarcerated. Tucker said Burt was involved with Born Free, and he is listed as a member of the organization’s board of directors on the Galilean Home’s website.
Tucker said there are currently about 55 children enrolled at the academy and more than 1,000 children have likely come through the home since its beginning. Including the victim, Tucker said he and his wife adopted 30 children themselves, many of them now adults.
Trooper Billy Gregory said the investigation into Burt is ongoing, but it is too early to tell whether there may be other victims or additional charges.
Burt is being held at the Casey County Detention Center on a $100,000 cash bond. He is scheduled to be in Casey District Court again for a preliminary hearing Thursday, June 14.
Court records show Burt has been granted a public defender.