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Prosecutors trace grim trail of child sex abuse

John Burbine stood with his lawyer, Bill Barabino (left), at his arraignment. Burbine pleaded not guilty.CHARLIE MAHONEY FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/Boston Globe

WOBURN — As prosecutors detailed a chilling pattern of abuse, convicted sex ­offender John Burbine pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 100 criminal counts related to the rape and sexual abuse of children in his wife’s day care business. He was held without bail.

During attack after recorded attack found on his home computer, Burbine, 49, of Wakefield calls the children by name and looks directly into the camera, according to newly released documents.

In court, Burbine showed no emotion as the charges against him were read.

Prosecutors say the repeated abuse of 13 infants and toddlers occurred over a two-year span beginning in ­August 2010, mostly in the children’s homes.


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 his wife was ill.

In one instance, a family with three young children contacted the Burbines through a referral listed on a website for mothers of twins. In an interview with the parents, Marian Burbine brought her husband, but assured them that “she alone would care for” their ­infant daughters and preschool-aged son, according to the court documents. She told the parents that her husband, who accompanied her to the interview, would be able to substitute in case of emergency.

But on the first night she was scheduled to watch the children, John Burbine “arrived at the family’s home in her place, giving the excuse that his wife was sick,” prosecutors stated.

For the next several weeks, John Burbine provided overnight care for the three children, continuing to say that his wife was ill. Burbine sexually assaulted all three children, prosecutors say.

Another couple hired Marian Burbine to provide overnight services to their newborn boy a few nights a week. On the first night, the family was surprised when John ­Burbine showed up instead.


Burbine “introduced himself and gave the excuse that his wife was not feeling well,” prosecutors stated. “From that night on, the defendant provided the care.”

Images and videos show Burbine sexually assaulting the boy, court records state.

Marian Burbine is accused of recklessly endangering children, and records show that she knew her husband had been convicted of indecent ­assault against a child in 1989 and accused of sexually abusing young boys in 2005 and 2009. Prosecutors have not ­accused her of being aware of the alleged abuse over the last two years, but court documents suggest she misled parents into allowing her husband to take her place in caring for their children.

“We are actively looking ­into her role in this alleged abuse,” said Stephanie Chelf Guyotte, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, whose office is prosecuting the case.

The documents and details revealed in court Wednesday made for shocking and disturbing reading. One video shows Burbine assaulting a newborn. Another shows him molesting a preschool-age boy in a sports club changing room, even after someone knocks on the door, according to prosecutors. Others detail his assaults, including on ­infants.

In announcing the charges last week, Leone described the scope of the abuse as the worst he had ever seen, and he vowed that Burbine would spend the rest of his life in jail.

The state Department of Children and Families investigated Burbine on suspicion of sexually abusing young boys in 2005 and 2009, but prosecutors were ultimately not able to bring charges against him.


State records show that Marian Burbine has warned her neighbors not to let her husband look after their children. The couple does not have children of their own.

Yet prosecutors say Marian Burbine also told clients that her husband was an experienced baby sitter. In one ­instance, shortly after she was hired to provide overnight care to infant sisters, she introduced her husband to the family and assured them he was “very good” with children. For a while, the couple cared for the children together, but eventually John Burbine began providing day and overnight care by himself.

Over 20 months, he sexually assaulted the infants, prosecutors say. In multiple videos, Burbine “can be heard calling the children by name and making comments of a sexual nature to them during the course of the assaults.”

Investigators said they found multiple images of the girls in their high chairs watching adult pornography on a laptop computer.

Investigators discovered the alleged abuse after receiving a complaint and learning that the day care company, called Waterfall Education Center, was unlicensed. In late September, investigators executed a search warrant and found hundreds of images and videos of the alleged assaults.

Marian Burbine is due back in court next week for a pre­trial hearing. No one answered the door at the couple’s home in Wakefield Wednesday, and her lawyer could not be reached for comment.


In court Wednesday, John Burbine stood motionless as the charges against him were read and seemed to follow the proceedings closely. When the hearing ended, he spoke with his lawyer, Bill Barabino.

Barabino did not object to his client’s being held without bail, saying it was a forgone conclusion. Burbine is due back in court next month.

Outside the courthouse, ­Barabino said Burbine seems “very distressed” and said he had been threatened in custody. Asked if Burbine is on a suicide watch, Barabino said he had been under “close observation.”

It did not appear that Burbine had friends or family at the hearing, and Barabino ­declined to say whether he had been in contact with his wife.

Prosecutors said that no victims were present and that they wanted their privacy preserved.

John Ellement and Jenifer ­McKim of the Globe staff contributed to this report. ­Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Globepete.