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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Conviction Against New Hanover Sex Offender

For Immediate Release:
Monday, April 24, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed
919-716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that Robert Adam Burns pleaded guilty in New Hanover County to four counts of statutory sex offenses with a 13-,14-, or 15-year-old and four counts of indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced to 16-20 years in prison by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham. All of the counts stem from abuse against one victim in 2004 and 2005.

Attorney General Josh Stein released the following statement:

“No matter how long ago a crime occurred, we have to do everything in our power to get justice for victims and get criminals off our streets. I thank the survivor in this case for testifying about her abuse as a child and sending a clear message to other victims: what happened to you wasn’t your fault and you can speak out. I also want to thank the prosecutors in my office who tried this case and are making our state safer.”

The survivor who testified in this case read a victim impact statement in court today. Part of her statement is below:

“Young women deserve the chance to be confident, silly, and flattering without it being seen as a proposition. They deserve the chance to make their own mistakes without your help. To feel confident in their bodies, even as they begin to change later in life. And they deserve adults who will help them heal from their trauma instead of compounding upon it.”

Burns owned a comic book store in Wilmington. In 2000, he met the victim, then 10 years old, at the comic book store and began grooming her by giving her surfing lessons at Wrightsville Beach for some years. Burns began sexually assaulting the victim when she was 14 years old. She came forward in early 2020 to disclose the abuse.

Attorney General Stein’s Special Prosecutions and Law Enforcement Section was referred this criminal case for prosecution by the New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David, and section head and Special Deputy Attorney General Boz Zellinger prosecuted the case. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office began its investigation in this matter in connection to a separate investigation into Peter Frank. The North Carolina Department of Justice also prosecuted Frank in a separate case and convicted him in trial of 17 counts of sex crimes and indecent liberties, resulting in a minimum 50-year prison sentence.

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