A Wakefield husband and wife are facing numerous charges in connection with an illegal day care service that subjected at least 13 children - one of them just days old - to horrific sexual abuse that was recorded on video.
On Thursday, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced the indictments of Wakefield residents John Burnbine, 49, and his wife, Marian Burbine, 46. The two were proprietors of the Waterfall Education Center, which reportedly offered home-based services to clients ranging from day care to group care and tutoring and babysitting. The business reportedly had some employees as well, although Leone indicated that no complicity has been found at this point among them.
"In my 14 years in Middlesex County, I have never seen a case this bad," Leone told area media at a Thursday press conference in Woburn.
Combined, the two defendants were indicted on more than 100 charges. John Burbine is facing 40 counts of aggravated forcible rape of a child, subsequent offense, 17 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child, 12 counts of posing a child in a state of nudity, 11 counts of posing a child in sexual conduct, 13 counts of child pornography, 2 counts of dissemination of material harmful to a minor, and one count of operating an unlicensed day care program.
For her part, Marian Burbine faces 6 counts of reckless endangerment of a child, and two counts of operating an unlicensed day care business.
According to the DA, this case covers abuse allegations occurring from August, 2010 to August 2012. Child victims allegedly ranged in age from 8 days old to 3.5 years old. The victims are reportedly from Reading, Stoneham, Medford, Newton, Melrose, Woburn, and Waltham.
A complaint against Mr. Burbine received back in July was also deemed not prosecutable at the time, reported Leone - but it also gave authorities the break they needed to keep the investigation of the day care service going. That's because once they knew about the illegal day care service, authorities were able to get a cease and desist order for the business, as well as a search warrant for the defendants' home and business. During this search, Leone reported that a large number of videos and photos allegedly showing the abuse were discovered. Mrs. Burbine was charged on October 1, while Mr. Burbine was arrested September 28, said Leone.
For now, Leone said that Mrs. Burbine is not charged with knowingly allowing the abuse to happen. However, he noted that along with allegedly running the illegal daycare service, she would have been aware of abuse allegations made against her husband in 2005 and 2009, which turned out not to be prosecutable, as well as his record as a sex offender. Leone suggested that in those matters, the very young age of the alleged victims may have made prosecution impractical.
Many of these assaults also allegedly took place at the homes of the victims - apparently this business was set up more like a babysitting service where they would go to clients' homes. The two have a residence on Second Street in Wakefield and their business address was on Lincoln Street. The two reportedly do not have children of their own.
Leone also noted that in 1989, Mr. Burbine was convicted of indecent assault and battery, but that under state law, was classified as a Level 1 Sex Offender - which is the kind deemed least likely to repeat.
"It is our firm intention that he will be convicted for these crimes and he will never get out of jail," said Leone, noting that some of the victims are "irreparably damaged."
Mrs. Burbine is due back in court Dec. 20 while a court date for Mr. Burbine is not yet established.
And while authorities so far are investigation abuse against 13 children, Leone noted that "scores" of children had been in the care of the Burbines at some point. With that in mind, those who still have allegations to report involving this matter are encouraged to come forward, added the District Attorney.