“Burrell also stated that he had only taken boys to the church after normal business hours once or twice, and then later gave numerous examples of after-hours outings with different boys,” Lombardo reported.
A telephone call to the church office was not returned.
Possible victims, who ranged in age from 14 to 17, told detectives that Burrell would pick them up at the group home after hours and take them to the church, his home and fast food restaurants.
The Sequoyah House closed Dec. 27 after the Oklahoma Department of Human Services notified the home's operator in November that it was canceling the company's contract and revoking its license, said Mark Beutler, DHS communications manager.
The group home was operated by Sallisaw-based Sequoyah Enterprises, which is currently appealing the contract cancellation and closure, he said.
Beutler said as soon as allegations were received, DHS officials acted immediately to ensure that Burrell was removed from the group home and prohibited from returning.
“We continued to have our child welfare staff on site every day, including weekends, monitoring the safety of the children,” he said. “We take very seriously the safety of the children in our care and take every precaution to ensure their safety.”
The charges filed Friday in Comanche County District Court were the result of a joint investigation by the Lawton Police Department and the DHS Office of Client Advocacy.
If convicted, Burrell could be sentenced to up to life in prison and fined from $500 to $5,000. The other three suspects in failure to report the alleged abuse each could be imprisoned up to a year and fined up to $1,000, if they are convicted.