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Ex-nurse headed to prison for assault

Dec. 05, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A former nurse wept, apologized and went on for more than 14 minutes Tuesday admitting that he sexually abused an oncology patient at a local hospital.

Travis Scott Burdette, 37, of Salt Rock, took full responsibility for his actions in court, however he attributed the abuse to a sex addiction that he never realized having until he landed behind bars one year ago.

Next week, Burdette will return to that place of revelation, having received a 2- to 10-year prison sentence with 40 years of supervised release. He must turn himself into the Western Regional Jail by 10 a.m., Dec. 11.

Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson handed down the punishment Tuesday. He described himself as baffled as to how a married man with reputable employment became involved in something so destructive.

"I'm trying to figure out why this happened," he said. "I don't think I'll ever figure it out."

It all unraveled last December.

That's when city police accused Burdette of having sexual intercourse with an elderly woman without her consent. Burdette was a licensed practical nurse at the time, while his victim was a patient at Cabell Huntington Hospital's oncology unit.

Burdette initially blamed the victim, but recanted those assertions Tuesday, saying it took several weeks behind bars before he realized the depths of his sex addiction. He has since turned to counseling and his spiritual faith, he said.

"It came out in the worst way possible," he told the court. "I was a nurse. People depend upon me to help them, to protect them. I made a choice. I made a wrong choice and I hurt a lot of people in the process."

An indictment initially charged Burdette with two counts second-degree sexual assault.

That led to a plea deal, in which the prosecution agreed to reduce both counts to first-degree sexual abuse in return for Burdette's no-contest plea. That type of plea required neither an admission nor a explanation from Burdette, but he provided both in addressing the victim's family, his former employer and referencing his now estranged marriage.

"I was a nurse and I had no business doing what I did," he told the court. "With my addiction, I was living in this fantasy world and I used everything to justify that. In my state of mind, I believed it was (consensual), but looking back how could she have consented in the shape she was in."

In addition to prison and supervised release, Burdette's plea agreement and punishment prohibits him from working at, or opening, any type of health facility where he would be caring for patients older than 65.

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