Defendant in child sex crime trial denies allegations, tries to cast doubt on timeline of when crimes allegedly happened

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

George Burgess testifies on June 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Burgess is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a young girl between 2017-2019.

A man accused of raping a young girl took the stand on Monday in Douglas County District Court, denying that he had done anything to the girl and trying to cast doubt on her recollection and the timeline of events.

The man, George Joseph Burgess Jr., 45, is back on trial this week after a brief delay because he was ill. He is charged with two counts of rape and 11 counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

The crimes Burgess is accused of are alleged to have occurred sometime between January 2017 and February 2019 in Douglas County, when the girl was between 7 and 9 years old. The girl has also claimed that Burgess abused her at multiple locations as he traveled across the country with her mother, but those allegations are not part of the Douglas County case.

Two weeks ago, the girl testified that Burgess had assaulted her multiple times in several budget hotels, a campsite and at the Lawrence Community Shelter, as the Journal-World reported.

On Monday, Burgess, who is represented by attorney Dakota Loomis, tried to cast doubt on details of the girl’s story and the timeline of events. In particular, Burgess said that for part of the window of time when the abuse was alleged to have occurred, he was in jail.

Court records indicate that Burgess was convicted in 2016 in Leavenworth County of misdemeanor endangerment of a child and misdemeanor domestic battery in connection with an incident that took place in 2014. He was originally granted probation, but he failed to comply with the terms and was required to serve his 12-month sentence in the Leavenworth County Jail.

Burgess testified Monday that his jail time started in April 2017. He said that partway through his sentence, he escaped from the jail for nearly a month — “I walked away one day,” he said. “I had outside duties and I walked off for 27 days.”

Court records show that Burgess absconded on July 20, 2017, and that he was arrested and taken back to the jail in August 2017. Burgess did not say where he was staying during that time, but he did say he did not see the girl.

Burgess also testified that in January 2019, he was no longer with the girl and her mother, but rather was working in Kansas City, Mo.; he said he’d had a fight with the girl’s mother and “I got fed up with it. I packed a backpack and left.” He testified that he had phone conversations with the girl and her mother during this time, but did not see them in person.

Burgess also said that some, but not all, of the hotels where the girl alleged she was abused were places that he had never lived at.

The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden, asked whether, during the window of time between January 2017 and February 2019, Burgess had spent any time alone with the girl.

“Yes, except for when I was in jail,” Burgess said.

Seiden also asked why Burgess sounded so sure of the timeline of events now, after having heard testimony from the girl and other witnesses. Seiden said when Burgess was first approached by police about the allegations, he wasn’t able to recall some basic details of where he, the girl and her mother had lived.

Burgess said that if there was anything he didn’t tell police in his two interviews with them, it was because he was upset at the time.

“It’s hard to tell the police every single place you’ve been when you’ve been homeless or high,” Burgess said.

Also in his testimony, Burgess claimed the girl had misremembered various facts in her earlier testimony and her statements to police. For instance, he pointed to a trip she took with Burgess and her mother to California; the girl had told police she had a broken arm at that time and was wearing a cast, but Burgess claimed that the injury was just a sprain and the cast was removed before the trip.

Closing arguments in Burgess’ trial are scheduled for Tuesday morning. Burgess is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $100,000 cash or surety bond.