“Working with victims was our priority during that time,” Chelf Guyotte said.
In a 158-page indictment released Friday, prosecutors outlined the scope of the alleged abuse, which Leone described as the worst child case of its kind he had seen. Burbine faces 100 counts of criminal charges in connection to the abuse, and prosecutors say many of the children were abused repeatedly.
The charges are graphic, describing the nature of the assaults and how children were posed in sexual conduct.
The complaint that sparked the broader investigation involved a 2-year-old girl, whom the couple cared for with her infant sister. After just weeks in the couple’s care, she began exhibiting “sexualized behavior,” court records show. Investigators quickly learned the Buirbines were running a child-care service without a license, in clear violation of state law.
Interviews with parents revealed that the couple would pick up children from one family’s home, andbring them to another, a service that requires state authorization.
“The center wasn’t licensed in any way,” said Heather Johnson, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Early Education and Care.
With some exceptions, including care by relatives, informal arrangements among friends, and occasional care, child-care facilities must be licensed by the state.
While the couple generally cared for children in the children’s homes, investigators found they also took them to their Wakefield residence. Neighbors told investigators they saw John Burbine with young children, sometimes from more than one family, on his street and entering his home. That home, investigators found, was piled high with debris.
“The condition of the home is deplorable,” an investigator wrote in an August report. “By bringing any child into their home, the Burbines endangered the child.”
The agency also found that the center falsely advertised on its website that its nannies were state-certified and had received a background check. These claims were “false and misleading to the public,” the agency reported.
The child-care service had at least five other employees, who described themselves to investigators as tutors. They are not implicated in the alleged abuse.
In September, the agency issued a cease-and-desist order against the couple. “By providing unlicensed care, your clients placed children at risk because there is no method to ensure their safety,” the agency wrote in a letter to the couple’s lawyer.
The agency had previously investigated a 2009 complaint that Marian Burbine was providing unlicensed care in her home, but determined that she had not. The agency sent her a letter saying she needed to apply for a license if she decided to care for a child on a regular basis.
According to records at the secretary of state’s office, Marian Burbine registered Waterfall as a limited liability company in September 2009, saying the organization intended to “provide tutoring, school-aged child care, and educational support for children and adults.” Two months later, Burbine amended the filing, this time saying that “licensed teachers provide tutoring for children,” omitting any reference to child care.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin said that because the business did provide child care, the omission is probably punishable with a light civil penalty.
“I’ll refer the matter to my general counsel, and if we feel it’s appropriate to file something, we will,” he said.