A Wakefield mom whose son was tutored by an illegal day care business where more than a dozen children may have been sexually abused says she checked out the proprietors' background — and found no red flags.
On Thursday afternoon, news spread quickly through the region about the indictment of a Wakefield couple for numerous charges stemming from an illegal day care operation where graphic child sexual abuse occurred and was even recorded.
At least one Woburn child was among the victims, according to the district attorney's office.
Woman's Son Was Tutored There for Two Years
John and Marian Burbine were the proprietors of Waterfall Education Center, which offered tutoring and day care to children in numerous area towns. The Middlesex County District Attorney's office alleges that at least 13 children were abused there while under the care of John Burbine, 49.
During his Thursday press conference, District Attorney Gerry Leone noted that allegations had come up against John Burbine in both 2005 and 2009, but that the complaints were deemed not prosecutable at the time. Leone also reported John Burbine had a 1989 conviction for indecent assault and battery and was classified as a Level 1 sex offender — the category for those deemed least likely to re-offend.
After reading our story about the Burbines, a Wakefield woman called Patch. She reported she had looked into Waterfall Education Center two years ago when she first brought her son there for tutoring services. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, indicated that her son is not thought to be one of the victims in the case. Still, she asked for anonymity to protect the identity of her child.
The local mother said she did not see Burbine on the sex offender registry and that she had seen Marian Burbine's teaching credentials and was satisfied.
This summer the Mass. Department of Children and Families showed up at her home to interview her child as part of the investigation into the Burbines. The woman reported that she inquired with the Wakefield Police and was told that under state law, there was nothing they could have told her even if they had known.
'Kind of Creepy'
During the conversation, the woman indicated that a tutor from the business was assigned to her son, and that during the occasional sick day, Marian Burbine would "just slide" John Burbine in as a last-minute replacement. At his press conference, Leone noted that much of the alleged abuse occurred at the homes of the victims, although this woman said that she would bring her son to the Waterfall's Lincoln Street office for his tutoring - while either she or her husband waited. She also believes that her son was tutored by John Burbine only once during the two year period.
The woman also indicated that she found John Burbine from the start to be "kind of creepy," and generally very quiet around her and her husband. Still, she added that she was not trying to look into his background because of any specific suspicion.
"We were just checking because anyone that interacts with our kid, we want to be sure they were on the up and up," she told Wakefield Patch. She added that her impression of Marian Burbine was of being "a little flaky," "rather meek," and possibly like she was trying to run her first business. She added that John Burbine originally worked downstairs in the office space distributing Shaklee health products and that his work space later merged with his wife's.
Overall though, this parent's main concern is the fact that John Burbine spent so much time under the radar, only to emerge facing dozens of child sex abuse charges.
"The thing that upsets me most about this whole sex offender registry is... he was lumped in with people who urinate in public. He was still allowed to be with kids," she said.