A former Portland Community College drivers ed teacher and bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been arrested and charged with 15 counts of sexually abusing his students.
According to media reports, Paul Douglas Burdick, 48, who worked at the Willow Creek Center in Hillsboro Ward, was hired by PCC in April 2012 as a part-time drivers ed instructor. This appointment involved both classroom tuition and test drives.
Allegations of sexual abuse were first reported to the college and the police in 2016 when two girls claimed that Burdick had groped three 16-year-old students whilst they were on a driving lesson with him. Burdick was accused of touching the girls’ breasts and thighs, giving them flowers and candy and referring to them as ‘sexy’ or ‘princess.’ This led to him being arrested in October of that year and placed on administration leave by the college.
However, according to media reports, a lack of evidence meant that the District Attorney’s office was unable to file charges at that time and the criminal case against him was dropped in February 2017. Despite the arrest and investigation, Portland Community College decided to allow Burdick to return to work.
The Hillsboro Mormon bishop was arrested again on August 31st 2018 after the mother of a 15 year-old girl reported that Burdick had repeatedly touched her daughter inappropriately during driving lessons. During interviews, held in September 2018, the teenager revealed that she had had a total of four two-hour lessons with Burdick and that he would stare at her chest and touch her every two minutes. According to media reports, this victim also reported that Burdick groped and ogled other girls in her class. This allegation was confirmed by a second girl who says Burdick touched her both in the classroom and in the car.
On one occasion, she says, Burdick demonstrated the effect of being rear-ended by bumping his body into her body and touching her back and backside.
Other students reported that Burdick made girls perform jumping jacks and recorded them on his cellphone.
The allegations were reported to the police and the college who placed Burdick once more on administration leavebefore firing him on April 24 2019. The LDS Church also removed him from his position although it is not known at this time whether there were any allegations of sexual abuse against Burdick in his role as a Mormon church leader. Stake President, Blake S. Bennett released a statement saying: ‘We have removed Burdick from his leadership role and he has been prohibited from serving with children.’
Following the initial interviews, investigators issued a subpoena to PCC in March 2019. In response the college provided three years’ records which included student names and contact details and Burdick’s lesson timetable for cross-referencing purposes. Burdick was arrested on the morning of Thursday 5th September 2019 and charged with 15 counts of third-degree sexual abuse. Charges were not filed on behalf of five further victims due to the state’s Statute of Limitations.
Burdick was taken to Washington County Jail and held on $150,000 bail.
Detectives have said that there are almost certainly more victims out there and have urged them to come forward. PCC have said that students can contact the Office of Equality and Inclusion to explore resources and access support.
Attorneys from Crew Janci LLP have a long and successful history of representing victims of Mormon abuse in claims against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you believe you are a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Burdick, whether in his role as a drivers ed teacher or Mormon church leader, the lawyers here at Crew Janci can advise you about your legal rights. Call us today at 1-888-407-0224 for a free and confidential consultation. You are not alone. We are here to help.
Call us privately on 1-888-407-0224; your information will be confidential and handled with the utmost sensitivity. Alternatively, you could fill out our confidential online form.