A former NFL player and Wisconsin football star is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl on multiple occasions.
Thomas Allen Burke, 44, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in St. Louis County, Minnesota.
According to the criminal complaint, a mother called 911 on Feb. 21 saying her 7-year-old daughter told her Burke had sexually assaulted her multiple times.
The next day, the First Witness Child Advocacy Center conducted a forensic interview with the victim, who tearfully explained Burke, who was like a father figure to her, sexually assaulted her at least five times at her home in southern St. Louis County, charges explain.
In an interview with investigators, Burke denied the accusations, saying he thought he was being "railroaded" and the victim's mom was out to get him, the complaint says.
He did confirm he was often in a caretaking role for the victim, and investigators confirmed that during the times the victim was assaulted her mom was often working, charges say.
Burke, who was raised in Poplar, Wisconsin, about 20 miles from Duluth, and went to Northwestern High School in Maple, Wisconsin, was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020.
He played defensive end for the Badgers from 1995-1998, including when the Badgers won the Big Ten championship (the team went on to win the 1999 Rose Bowl). He set the Big Ten record for sacks with 22 when he was a senior.
Burke went on to play defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals from 1999-2002.