SALEM — John Burbine, already facing dozens of child sexual assault charges in Middlesex County, appeared in Essex Superior Court Wednesday to answer to two more. The new charges stem from recent allegations by a 26-year-old Saugus man that Burbine raped him as a child.
The man sat stoically in the courtroom Wednesday, along with relatives and a victim witness advocate, and declined to comment after Burbine’s appearance. According to prosecutors, the man contacted local authorities after hearing recent news accounts that Burbine is facing a 100-count indictment, accused of abusing children who were in his care.
Burbine, 49, of Wakefield, wore a short-sleeved checkered shirt and held a manila envelope in his cuffed hands as he awaited his arraignment. At one point, he shared hearty laughs with another defendant who was sitting next to him, to the chagrin of the alleged victim’s family.
Burbine was indicted March 25 by an Essex County grand jury and charged Wednesday with one count of rape of a child and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14.
Burbine had been providing child care when he allegedly committed the acts, between May 16, 1990, and Jan. 8, 1994, the earliest assault occurring when the victim was 5.
Jeffrey G. Sweeney, Burbine’s Salem attorney, entered a plea of not guilty on his client’s behalf.
According to court records, authorities interviewed at least three people in connection with the investigation, but the Globe is withholding those names because they could lead to the identification of the alleged victim.
Investigators also obtained records from BayRidge Hospital in Lynn. It is unclear what connection BayRidge, which provides psychiatric and chemical dependency services to North Shore residents, has to the case.
In the Middlesex charges, authorities allege that Burbine raped and abused 13 children, ranging from just 8 days to 3 years old, over two years beginning in August 2010.
Most of the assaults allegedly occurred in the victims’ homes. Burbine gained access through his wife’s day-care business, prosecutors said.
Court documents state that parents would hire John Burbine’s wife, Marian Burbine, to look after their children. But in several cases, John Burbine quickly assumed responsibility for the children’s care, sometimes claiming that his wife was ill.
During attack after recorded attack allegedly found on his home computer, Burbine calls the children by name and looks directly into the camera, according to court documents.
Investigators in Middlesex County discovered the alleged abuse after receiving a complaint in July and learning that the Burbines’ day-care company, Waterfall Education Center, was unlicensed.
According to court records, the July complaint involved a 2-year-old whom the couple cared for along with her infant sister. After just weeks in the couple’s care, the toddler “began exhibiting sexualized behavior,” documents stated.
Two months later, investigators executed a search warrant and found hundreds of images and videos of the alleged assaults. Burbine has been in custody since, held without bail at the Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge.
The state Department of Children and Families investigated Burbine on suspicion of sexually abusing young boys in 2005 and 2009, but prosecutors did not bring charges.
Burbine had three convictions in 1989 involving indecent assault and battery on a child, according to court records, and is classified as a Level One sex offender, the category for individuals considered the least likely to reoffend.
On Wednesday, Judge John T. Lu ordered Burbine held without bail, and the defendant was scheduled to return to court on June 5 for a pretrial conference. A trial on the Essex charges was scheduled to start no later than April 14, 2014.
Marian Burbine is free on bail and has a pretrial conference slated for July, court records show.
Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.