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The Little Rascals Day Care Scandal

North Carolina's longest and most expensive criminal trial.

In 1989, the Little Rascals Day Care in Edenton, North Carolina, was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. One day, the owner's husband disciplined a boy at naptime, and soon an angry mother suggested that it was more than just a slap. Rumors quickly morphed into charges of unimaginable crimes against dozens of little children. Panic consumed the town, as the police, therapists, and parents relentlessly pressured the children who attended the day care to name their teachers responsible for multiple allegations of abuse.

Eerily reminiscent of the hysteria that gripped Salem, Massachusetts, during the witch trials of the seventeenth century, the Little Rascals case ultimately became the longest and most expensive criminal trial in North Carolina history.

Little Rascals Day Care Edenton, NC 

The Edenton Seven were caught up in the accusations, including nineteen-year-old teacher Robin Boles Byrum. She spent nearly a year in jail under an enormous bond meant to pressure her to "tell the truth" while she had a new baby at home.


This is her story.

Robin's Story

Wrongfully accused.  Falsely Imprisoned.

Robin moved to Edenton when she was 11 with her mother, Lou Boles, who adopted her as an infant. Robin's first job after high school was taking care of the two and three year-olds at Little Rascals Day Care. She was pregnant with her first child during the period when the alleged abuse occurred.

Robin was 19 when she was arrested in January of 1990, leaving her 7 month-old baby, Anthony, with her husband, Kevin, also 19. Her bond had been set at half a million dollars.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

19 year-old Robin with her baby .

Robin spent nearly a year under the $500,000 bond awaiting a trial that never happened.  She was released in December 1990, when her bond was reduced to $200,000. Charges against her were dropped six years later, on December 16, 1996, after the day care owner's convictions were overturned.

Robin received hundreds of letters in the mail during her time in prison.

“They thought I would tell on the others.”

Three decades later, Betsy Hester met Robin and together, they joined forces to tell the truth in Twenty-One Boxes. Intertwined with the case history is Robin's never-before-told story of her harrowing journey through the court system.

Robin now with her family in North Carolina.

"Twenty-One Boxes tells the inspirational story of an eighteen-year-old girl caught in the satanic child abuse hysteria that consumed Edenton, North Carolina, in the late 80’s. Robin Couto faced an agonizing moral choice: lie to save herself or tell the truth and lose everything. In a time when moral courage and steadfast principles are in short supply, Robin’s courageous decision to follow her moral compass when so many others cast theirs aside should inspire us all."

Mike Spivey  | Defense Attorney

State of North Carolina v Robert Kelly

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