MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The brother of a youth minister accused of sexually abusing a child says he warned the church about Damien Burkhalter.READ MORE: 2 Tigers At Pittsburgh Zoo Test Positive For COVID-19
Dwight Burkhalter says his brother’s past behavior was unbecoming of someone who works with children.
Concerned about the safety of the children of the church, he says he went to the church leader to express his concerns.
“I want to see the people of that church are safe from something like this happening again,” Burkhlater said.
Burkhalter spoke with WCCO-TV because he wanted to share what steps he and his family took to keep his brother away from children.
“We decided to approach Damien and basically give him the opportunity to step down as youth pastor, or basically, we told him we were going to go to the church ourselves. And when Damien was approached with that ultimatum, he chose to basically shun his family,” Burkhalter said.
Burkhalter says his brother walked away from the family and made Glen Cary Lutheran Church his entire life.READ MORE: Minnesota Budget Update Reflects $7.7 Billion Surplus
Burkhalter says he shared his concerns with pastor Paul Settergren, the head of Glen Cary Lutheran.
“I explained everything I knew about Damien’s past and about why I had reason to be concerned, and he told me that basically everything that had happened was many years in the past and people changed,” Burkhalter said.
According to Burkhalter, the pastor told him that there were safeguards in place that wouldn’t allow Damien Burkhalter to be alone with children.
Court records show, however, that Damien Burkhalter was alone with his victim in many instances, in which he allegedly repeatedly attempted to have sex with a 15-year-old girl at youth camps, the church’s youth room, the church office and his home.
Burkhalter says he feels the pastor should admit he knew there was a problem and did nothing to fix it.
Pastor Settergren talked to WCCO-TV by phone Saturday.
He says he remembers meeting with Burkhalter’s family. He also says that by the time the family spoke with him, Burkhalter had been in his position for two years and was highly regarded.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Tuesday Morning Snow Showers Make For Tough Commute
The pastor says he couldn’t fire Damien Burkhalter for allegations he couldn’t substantiate.