A Dubuque man is accused of inappropriate behavior with a minor he met doing mission work for a Dubuque Catholic church.
49-year-old Robert Buss appeared in court Tuesday morning on a charge of Dissemination of Obscene Material to a Minor.
Buss allegedly sent nude photos of himself to a young Haitian man and may have engaged in sex acts with him while on a mission trip to Haiti.
Buss led several mission trips there through St. Anthony Catholic Church in Dubuque.
The Dubuque Archdiocese released a statement Tuesday in response to the morning's proceedings, saying it has no reason to believe Buss was inappropriately involved with any of St. Anthony's students. Anybody with information contrary to that belief is urged to contact Dubuque law enforcement officials.
According to the criminal complaint document, on February 1, 2013, police received a tip that Buss had been sending nude pictures of himself to a minor he had met in Haiti. Police obtained e-mail records, Facebook messages and photos that had been sent between Buss and the young Haitian man. The conversations suggested the two had engaged in sexual activities during one of Buss' trips to Haiti. According to the Haitian youth's birth date, the young man would have been 16 years old during the time he was receiving Buss' photo, though he is now 18 years old.
The criminal complaint document also indicates Buss agreed to an interview on Friday, after police executed a search warrant at his Dubuque home. According to the document, Buss admitted he sent explicit photos of himself to the young Haitian man and had engaged in sexual activity with him in April of 2011, sending the photos later that year. The court document says Buss said he knew the Haitian was a high school student at the time of the activity.
In its statement, the Dubuque Archdiocese said Buss is a member of St. Anthony parish, where he has served as a religious education teacher (catechist) since 2007. The archdiocese said Buss did not access church computers through his teaching role there.
"Complying with the Archdiocesan Policy for the Protection of Minors, Mr. Buss participated in a safe environment training program and also completed a background check before becoming a catechist," the statement says.
After hearing about the allegations, St. Anthony officials placed Buss on immediate leave until further notice.
"The alleged behaviors that prompted the arrest were unknown to St. Anthony's Parish. Parish Administrators are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials," the statement says.
Assistant Dubuque County prosecutor Chris Corken said Tuesday afternoon there is no court date scheduled for Buss at this time.