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Richard Stephon Burnham
January 12, 1965
|Occupation||Former free-lance photojournalist and firefighter captain|
Richard Stephon Burnham (January 12, 1965) is an American former free-lance photojournalist, former firefighter captain, and convicted sex offender. Burnham was arrested in March 2007 after getting confronted by Chris Hansen on Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator for trying to have sex with someone who he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was arrested and in December 2008, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender.
Background[change | change source]
Dateline NBC and a nonprofit organization called Perverted Justice worked together to catch people who were trying to have sex with minors and expose them on a show called To Catch a Predator. They contacted the Ocean County prosecutor’s office in New Jersey because they heard they had a good computer crimes unit. They waited until they found enough people who wanted to meet minors before renting a house. The 28 men who were arrested had agreed to meet with what they thought were 12-15-year-old children for sex at a home in Mantoloking, New Jersey, but they were actually meeting with decoys from Perverted Justice and being filmed by Dateline NBC. The police and prosecutors were waiting outside the house to arrest them when they left.
Before getting caught in the sting, Richard Burnham worked as a free-lance photojournalist who specialized in sports photography for the "sportsshooter.com" website. He was also a retired member of the Hazardville Fire Department. 42-year-old Burnham began communication online with a decoy who told him she was a 14-year-old girl named "Jane." When chatting with the decoy on the internet, he pretended to be two different people, first posing as "uconnbluenwhite," a 21-year-old college student named "Rick." After mentioning about having sex, Burnham then posed as "Rick's" older friend 37-year-old "stevetakespix." In reality, he was speaking with someone from Perverted Justice posing as a teenage girl. Burnham then pretended to be "Steve" and used very gross and inappropriate language to describe how he wanted to take the girl's virginity.
Sting[change | change source]
On March 31, 2007, Burnham drove over three hours to arrive at the sting house where he thought the decoy was home alone. Instead of meeting a real child, he was met by an 18-year-old actress named Casey, who was posing as the teenage girl. After she offered him some brownies, Burnham refused and continued to chase after her. Casey explained that she felt creeped out and immediately fled the room. Casey was instructed to walk away if she ever felt uncomfortable. After Burnham tried to chase after her, To Catch a Predator host Chris Hansen appeared and told him to sit down. When confronted, Burnham admitted to wanting to have sex with a 14-year-old girl and brought a long with him a bottle of KY lubricating jelly.
Burnham admitted that he works as a freelance photographer, but in his past job, he was a firefighter captain for 22 years. Burnham also shared that he was divorced and had two kids. He said that he tried to have sex with the girl because he was feeling lonely and broke. However, he insisted that he had never actually met with an underage girl for sex. When Hansen read back the chat logs to him, Burnham admitted to everything he had written and agreed that it was clear he was planning to have sex with the girl. When Hansen revealed his identity and the cameras, Burnham initially objected and admitted that he knew he was in trouble. After some persuading, Burnham left and was then arrested.
Arrest and sentence[change | change source]
After Burnham was arrested, he was charged with luring and enticing a child, second-degree sexual assault and attempted second-degree sexual assault. He was released from prison on a $50,000 bond. Burnham would later have all his charges downgraded to a single felony count of attempting to endanger the welfare of a child under a plea deal. In December 2008, Judge Barbara Ann Villano sentenced Burnham to 180 days in jail. While Burnham is on parole, he could face between three to five years in prison if he commits another crime or fails to register as a sex offender. In August 2015, Burnham moved to Lady Lake, Florida and is registered as a sexual offender on the Florida Sex Offender Registry.
References[change | change source]
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Man Faces Charges in Sexual Predator Sting". Hartford Courant. April 4, 2007. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hansen, Chris (July 25, 2007). "Expensive home rich with potential predators". NBC. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Connecticut man sentenced to 6 months in sex sting". The Hour. December 7, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "Enfield photographer sentenced to 6 months in New Jersey sex sting". The Republican. December 8, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Wood, Alex (December 8, 2008). "Ex-fire captain in Enfield gets 180 days in N.J. sex sting". Journal Inquirer. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
- ↑ "'Predator' Photographer to Serve 6 Months". NBC Connecticut. December 8, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
- ↑ "Man Sentenced In Sex Sting". Hartford Courant. December 9, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
- ↑ Minton, Meta (August 15, 2015). "Sexual predator moves out of Villages, into area with many sex offenders". Village-News. Retrieved March 16, 2023.