Nearly every parent who works and has children under school age dreads the idea of dropping them off at daycare. In most cases parents do everything within their means to ensure that they are dropping their children off in a safe environment. Unfortunately, there are times that even those checks are not enough to keep predators and abusers at bay, and even the best of parents question what they could have done differently when they find that the place they’ve entrusted their children to is responsible for some of the most reprehensible acts imaginable.
Throughout the 1980s the daycare abuse hysteria, which heavily tied into the Satanic panic, caused many families to forego daycare altogether, but in today’s times that notion is not always a feasible one. While we can rest assured that most daycare providers strive to give children the best environment possible for them to be able to learn and grow, there are some who enter into the field for much darker reasons.
Background checks are in place to prevent some of the more sinister elements from ever having the opportunity to step foot on the center’s grounds, but sometimes people fall through the cracks and even the best preventative measures could not have prevented some of society’s worst monsters from having access to our children. Today we will look at five of the most horrible cases of daycare abuse.
ABC Kidz Child Rape
In 2013, sheriffs deputies conducted a standard check on registered sex offender James Osborne and discovered an unregistered laptop in his possession. On the laptop, footage of daycare worker Heather Koon was discovered. In the videos Koon can be seen carrying out sexual acts with young children who attended ABC Kidz Child Center in Elyria, Ohio, some as young as one and two years old. Koon had been dating Osborne at the time of her arrest and through his encouragement, Koon agreed to engage in sexual encounters with four of the children she cared for.
Koon has since pleaded guilty to charges including rape, illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, kidnapping and pandering obscenity involving a minor. She is currently facing life in prison, but may be able to serve 15, on the condition that she registers as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
As for Osborne, he has also pleaded guilty to all charges, which include complicity to rape, complicity to kidnapping, pandering obscenity involving a minor, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, failure to register as a sex offender and use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. He also faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, but may be able to serve as little as 15 depending on the judge’s decision.
The Boston Child Rapist
At 25-years-old John Burbine had been convicted of molesting three young children aged 5 to 7 years old. Burbine had been hired as a babysitter for the boys and it wouldn’t be long thereafter that one of the boys would report that Burbine had been fondling him to his parents. Burbine was charged, but received only a 6-month sentence and ordered to serve a two-year probation. The family believed that Burbine, now being a convicted sex offender, would never be able to care for children again. They thought wrong.
Between 2010 and 2013 Burbine and his wife owned and operated an unlicensed daycare called Waterfall Education Center. Burbine advertised the service online, including on parenting message boards and coupon sites. Burbine would go on to rape 13 young children ranging in age from 8 months to 3-years-old.
The prosecutor’s office began to receive complaints about the center and Burbine in September of 2012. Burbine was placed under arrest and officials assured the public that, if convicted, Burbine would never again see the light of day and certainly would never step foot near a child again. Burbine committed suicide in his jail cell as he awaited trial.
Baby Fight Club
Two workers at the Minnieland Academy daycare center in Virginia were charged with cruelty or injury to a child and assault and battery after social workers investigated complaints against the center. Allegations against Kierra Spriggs and Sarah Jordan included stepping on children’s bare toes as a form of punishment, dunking children into portable pools, tossing children into their cots at naptime, beating a child with an easel, spraying children in the face with hoses and feeding kids spicy hot cheetos. Additionally the pair were accused of running a “baby fight club” from the center, where toddlers were forced to fight one another for their amusement.
As soon as Minnieland Academy got word of the allegations against the workers they were fired immediately. Spriggs was found guilty of child cruelty and assault and battery after a two week trial. Jordan was also found guilty of similar charges. Both are still awaiting their sentencing, but could receive up to 40 years in prison.
When Adam Seagull suddenly died at an in-home daycare operating in Fairfield, Connecticut his death was initially explained away as SIDs. The baby was found with no apparent trauma and had not been reported to have been ill prior to his death. It wouldn’t be until an autopsy report revealed extremely high levels of Diphenhydramine, most commonly known as Benadryl, found in the infant’s system.
No criminal charges have been filed over the March 2016 incident, but the 4 month old’s death has been ruled a homicide.
Fire While Worker Shops
24-year-old Jessica Tata was sentenced to 80 years in prison after she left four children left within her care to go shopping. Tata, who had been running an in-home daycare at the time, allowed seven children to stay at the home unsupervised as she went shopping at a nearby Target store. Two children were seriously injured, while a 16-month-old perished in a fire that erupted in the home after a pan of oil Tata had left boiling on the stove ignited.
During her trial it was discovered that Tata had often left children she had been paid to care for home alone while she ran her errands and it was only a matter of time before a fatal accident occurred. Tata was found guilty of murdering the 16-month-old in her care due to her gross negligence.