A former teacher at a Bristow day care center was sentenced Thursday to serve 41 years in prison for sexually abusing children in his care in case that prosecutors described as “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Taylor Keith Boykin, 28, a former teacher at a Minnieland Academy in Bristow, pleaded guilty in October to 14 charges including multiple counts of object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, indecent liberties by a custodian and producing child pornography.
At a sentencing hearing Thursday, Judge Lon E. Farris sentenced Boykin to a total of life in prison, with all but 41 years suspended, on the charges.
Boykin was arrested in April 2018 and admitted to molesting children at the day care center, at 10368 Bristow Center Drive in Bristow. Prosecutors said the police investigation identified 15 victims, most of whom were 4 or 5 years old at the time. Several of the children were abused multiple times, prosecutors said.
Much of the abuse took place on the day care center’s playground where, police and prosecutors said, Boykin would reach into a tunnel slide and sexually assault children, telling them he was tickling them. Boykin also often pulled down children’s pants and underwear and took photos of them with his smartwatch, prosecutors said. Investigators found 120 sexually explicit images on Boykin’s watch, prosecutors said.
Parents tell of anxiety, bad dreams
At the hearing, eight parents testified about the long-lasting impact the abuse has had on their children.
Several parents recalled when police first contacted them to ask to interview their child.
“Nothing can prepare you for the day you are told your daughter was touched inappropriately by someone that you trusted, someone who was supposed to protect her,” one father testified. “We left our children in his care… our children were supposed to be protected.”
Prince William Times is not identifying the parents by name to protect the identity of the child victims.
Some of the parents who testified said their children have nightmares and night terrors now as a result of the sexual abuse. One mother said her daughter has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Several parents said their children now struggle with anger, aggressiveness, low self-esteem and anxiety. The parents said they worry about the long-term effect this will have on their children’s lives.
“She still thinks about it and has bad dreams,” one mother testified. “She’ll remember this for the rest of her life… I know I will.”
The parents said the aftermath of the abuse has caused problems in their marriages, has left them unable to trust people to care for their children and has caused them to struggle with guilt and anxiety.
“I failed to keep my own daughter safe… there is no greater shame and I will live with that shame for the rest of my life,” one father testified.
Virginia’s voluntary sentencing guidelines, which recommend a sentencing range for judges to consider based on the nature of the offense, a defendant’s criminal history and other factors, recommended sentence between 25 years and six months to 41 years and two months in Boykin’s case.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lauren Pomerantz asked the judge to exceed the guidelines and sentence Boykin to life in prison. Defense attorney Robert Jenkins argued for sentence on the low end of the guidelines.
“This case is the stuff of nightmares,” Pomerantz said in her argument. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Pomerantz echoed the parents’ testimony and said that it’s not possible yet to tell “the extent of the psychological and emotional” damage caused to the young victims.
Pomerantz emphasized that the abuse was ongoing and that several of the victims were abused more than once. One young girl, when asked by her mother if the inappropriate touching happened “a lot,” responded by asking, “Is once a day a lot?” Pomerantz said.
Pomerantz also argued that the damage and trauma caused by Boykin’s actions extended to the parents and other family members. Many of the parents feel guilty and blame themselves, Pomerantz said, even after being told often it was not their fault.
“There is not a day that goes by that these parents will not blame themselves… they will carry that guilt for the rest of their lives,” Pomerantz said.
Boykin: ‘I’m incredibly sorry’
Jenkins said that Boykin has shown remorse and has taken responsibility for his actions. He also said that Boykin’s actions were the result of an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness that can be managed.
Before he was sentenced Boykin stood and spoke, his voice shaking with emotion.
“I apologize … for the hurt that I’ve caused,” he said. “If I could go back and stop myself I would, without hesitation. I hate the choices I’ve made… I’m incredibly sorry.”
After the sentencing hearing, Jenkins said Boykin “was doing the best he could to convey his regret and deep, deep remorse for the offenses he committed.”
“Taylor understood from first time law enforcement got invoked that he had done something very bad. I think he was very sincere with his expressions of remorse ...he feels terrible for what he did and the impact his actions will have on the families,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said that while the sentence Farris handed down “is a very severe sentence,” he is “grateful the judge did not accept the recommendation of the commonwealth and sentence him to life without the possibility of parole.”
“We certainly appreciate a sentence of 41 years is a very lengthy sentence, but in comparison to life we are hopeful it gives him something to look forward to,” Jenkins said. “We do believe with proper treatment that his behavior can be controlled and he won’t be an ongoing threat to anyone. “
In addition to the prison time, Farris sentenced Boykin to 10 years of supervised probation.
The Bristow Minnieland Academy closed in June 2018 because of decreasing enrollment, but reopened in January, NBC 4 reported.
In a statement Thursday, Minnieland Academy officials said Boykin’s sentence, “is appropriate following his guilty plea in Prince William County Circuit Court but can never make up for the harm and pain he caused.”
“Minnieland Academy remains appalled by Boykin’s violation of trust of children, their families and his co-workers. We took immediate action to implement enhanced security measures and are moving forward from this ordeal steadfast in our commitment to provide the safest and most nurturing environment,” the statement said.
Reach Amanda Heincer at email@example.com