John Burbine, a forty-nine-year-old Wakefield man, was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court Wednesday, and he is facing 100 counts involving alleged sexual abuse and child rape, including 40 counts of aggravated forcible child rape. He was held without bail.
Prosecutors allege that Burbine sexually abused thirteen children, including an 8-day-old infant, between August 2010 and August 2012. Burbine, a Level 1 convicted sex offender, allegedly forced the children to perform sexual acts on him, raped them, made them watch pornography, and took baths with them. The government alleges that Burbine and his wife provided day care services, sometimes for long periods of time ranging from weeks to, in one case, 20 months. The day care center, Waterfall Company, was reportedly unlicensed and offered discounted rates. Burbine’s wife, Marian, was charged with multiple counts of reckless endangerment of a child. Prosecutors said that the investigation into her role in the abuse is ongoing.
Police allegedly found images of the children in states of nudity on Burbine’s computer. It’s also alleged that there were video files on the computer depicting Burbine sexually abusing at least one child. The images were allegedly stored in a file called “Little 2.”
Burbine was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a child in 1989. The Department of Children and Families investigated Burbine in 2005 and 2009 after it was alleged that he sexually abused two young boys. DCF found that the allegations were supported, but Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone’s office was ultimately unable to bring charges.
Leone called the case one of the most “chilling” of its kind and said that he had “never seen a case this bad,” according to local news outlets.
In the wake of the Burbine publicity, those who have pushed for stronger sex offender legislation criticized the state government for failing to annually post sex offenders of all levels. Burbine, like other Level 1 offenders, was not listed on the Sex Offender Registry Board website along with the Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders.
Currently, many Massachusetts cities and towns have municipal ordinances imposing residency restrictions on convicted sex offenders. Some even ban convicted offenders from various public places. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Lynn over its ordinance, claiming that it is unconstitutional. The Lynn ordinance bans Level 2 and 3 offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or park. Attorney John Reinstein of the ACLU points out that the ordinance effectively bans sex offenders from living anywhere in Lynn, as ninety-five percent of the city is within the triggering distance. In October, Peabody passed an ordinance that went even further. It bans Level 2 and 3 offenders from schools, parks, libraries, and other recreational areas. The Peabody ordinance is modeled after a 2008 New Bedford ordinance.
Cases like this Burbine one tend to prompt reactionary, probably unconstitutional, laws. It is important to remember that “tough -on -crime” laws passed in times of public outrage, which the Burbine allegations seem to be bringing on, are rarely effective.