An Illinois couple living in Tucson who were accused of misrepresenting themselves to gain custody of another couple's adopted child face federal kidnapping charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Illinois indicted 37-year-old Nicole Eason of Danville and 46-year-old Calvin Eason of Westville on charges of kidnapping and transporting a child across state lines.
Prosecutors allege the Easons participated in an online discussion board with adoptive parents seeking new homes for children they no longer wanted or couldn't care for. The Easons allegedly lied about their background, and one couple brought their adopted child to Illinois in 2007.
Prosecutors say the Easons allegedly sexually abused that child while they had custody.
Authorities allege they kidnapped a second child in the same manner in 2008, allegedly transporting that child across state lines.
The Easons were living in Tucson when they were arrested in early April.
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WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury indicted an Illinois couple on charges of kidnapping and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney James A. Lewis of the Central District of Illinois and Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox of the FBI’s Springfield Division.
“Parents with adopted children who are struggling are all too frequently targets for those willing to say and do whatever it takes to gain access to those vulnerable children,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “The Criminal Division is committed to bringing to justice anyone who seeks to exploit children and risk their safety. Every child in America deserves a safe home.”
“Protecting children is a community responsibility,” said U.S. Attorney Lewis. “Law enforcement relies on the assistance of proactive neighbors, school officials and parents to protect our kids.”
The 16-year-old son of an Army major and his wife recalled for jurors Tuesday the day he broke down in tears and revealed that his parents were using hot sauce and a raw onion to discipline his three adopted siblings.
The teenager said he was on a weekend trip to his grandparents' house in South Bend, Indiana in 2010 when, after some prodding from his grandfather, he decided to unburden himself of the secret he'd kept for years.
"I felt scared because the next thing I was going to say could get me into a lot of trouble," he testified. "On the other hand I felt like it was my job to tell them the truth...I told the (grandparents) I didn't agree with what was going on in my house."
Army Maj, John Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, are facing federal charges of assault and child endangerment for allegedly abusing their three adopted children between the years 2005 and 2010. During a portion of that time the family was living at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County.
PITTSBURGH — The wife of a former state prosecutor who along with her husband was convicted of abusing their adopted Ethiopian children was granted parole Tuesday after she completed her six-month minimum sentence.
Defense attorney Robert Stewart argued that the judge's decision to grant parole should have been "routine" but said the case against Kristen Barbour had become a "public flogging" thanks to talk-radio critics who wanted her treated more harshly.
"She's been treated much harsher than someone else" in similar circumstances, Stewart said. "She's been the subject of repugnant, detestable talk-show hosts and yammering, cockamamie callers."
Barbour, 33, and her husband Douglas, 35, were sentenced in September after pleading no contest to child endangerment counts in June. Douglas Barbour pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts and was given five years' probation. He resigned from the state attorney general's office after the couple was charged in October 2012, and his law license was suspended in February.
NEW PORT RICHEY — State child welfare officials are reviewing their adoption screening process after an investigation into the death of 9-year-old Jenica Randazzo at the hands of her mentally ill uncle revealed potentially dangerous gaps in the system.
Officials also said that Eckerd Community Alternatives, the subcontractor agency responsible for the girl's adoptive placement, has implemented new policies to strengthen communication between their case managers and child protection investigators after it was revealed that information about the man's mental illness was not passed from one entity to the other.
Randazzo and her 55-year-old grandmother Angela Rios were beaten to death with a tire iron by the girl's uncle, Jason Rios, at their home on Catherine Street in New Port Richey February 5, Pasco County sheriff's deputies said. Rios faces two counts of first degree murder and an attempted murder charge related to an attack on one of Randazzo's siblings the same day, deputies said.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The involuntary manslaughter trial for the mother accused of gross negligence in the death of her 18-month-old daughter is on hold as tests are conducted of equipment that was supposed to keep the toddler alive.
Rebecca Joy Cotes is accused of failing to employ monitoring equipment when she put the child, Hannah Hoag, in her crib for the night on March 26, 2014. She is charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The toddler died as a result of her trachea tube being dislodged, causing her to asphyxiate, according to Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle.
Hannah had a tumor in her airway that impeded her ability to breathe, necessitating the tube, according to court records.
Wyoming Police investigators say a monitoring device meant to sound an alarm when the breathing tube was dislodged was not hooked up. Police and Child Protective Services investigated the incident for 10 months before charges were filed.
The Nueces County District Attorney's office dismissed capital murder charges against Hannah Overton late Wednesday afternoon.
The motion states 'prosecutorial discretion' as the reason for the dismissal.
DA Mark Skurka said his decision to drop the case was the result of a myriad of factors that came about after a careful review of the first trial; that included re-interviewing some of the key witnesses, consulting with some of the medical experts involved in the case, reviewing new evidence at recent hearings.
Overton was convicted in the death of her 4-year-old foster son, Andrew Burd, who she was in the process of adopting. The jury in that trial determined she failed to get immediate medical help for the boy after she fed him a fatal dose of salt.
However, the highest criminal court in Texas granted Hannah Overton a new trial in September of 2014.
The appeals court ruled that Overton received "ineffective counsel" at her trial.
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona man was sentenced on Thursday to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to child abuse for beating and starving his adopted teen daughters, a court official said.
Johann Glenn Jorg, 62, also was sentenced to lifetime probation by Judge Michael Kemp during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, said court spokesman Vincent Funari.
Under the deal with county prosecutors, Jorg pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and four other counts were dismissed. His attorney declined comment on the sentencing.
Jorg and his wife, Kimery, 54, were arrested last June at their home in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria after state child welfare workers alerted police to possible neglect of the 13-year-old and 11-year-old girls following a visit.
Police investigators found the 13-year-old in such poor shape that she had to be hospitalized, and said the 5-foot-tall (1.52-meter) girl weighed just 60 pounds (27 kg) when she was admitted.
An Army major and his wife engaged in "a regimen of abuse and neglect" with their three young foster children over a period of years that left the toddlers with broken bones and numerous other health problems, a federal prosecutor told a jury at the couple's child abuse trial Monday.
John and Carolyn Jackson also forced some of the children to drink hot sauce or eat hot pepper flakes and weren't exposed until one of their biological children reported the abuse to someone outside the family, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky said in his opening statement.
That child, now in his teens, is expected to provide key testimony for the prosecution.
The trial marks the second go-round for the Jacksons, whose previous trial last fall ended in a mistrial when a prosecutor inadvertently referred to the fact that one of the children had died. The judge had previously ruled that the boy's death could not be introduced during the trial since the defendants were not charged directly with his death.
Newark -- The three adopted children were each under the age of three when, federal prosecutors say, U.S. Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn carried out a cruel punishment regimen that went beyond the bounds of parental discipline.
One child was forced to eat an onion as punishment for drinking water from a toilet. Children were force-fed hot sauce or red-hot pepper flakes. And their bones were broken, prosecutors say.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence in this case will show that no matter where you draw that line, the defendants were miles past it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky told jurors Monday during opening statements in U.S. District Court.
New Jersey federal prosecutors reopened their child endangerment and assault case against the Jacksons Monday, five months after Judge Katharine Hayden declared a mistrial midway through the first trial.
COEUR d'ALENE - The case of a Rathdrum woman accused of having sex with her 14-year-old adopted son will be tried by a jury in Kootenai County.
Kimberly Durlin, 32, was charged with five counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16 in November of 2014. A jury trial is scheduled to begin April 20.
On Nov. 18, 2014, Durlin was with her son at a therapy session in Hayden when the boy allegedly told his therapist that he and his mother were having sex. The therapist then notified her supervisor of the allegations and, according to court records, the supervisor said the boy should go home with Durlin while the office notified Idaho Health and Welfare.
However, shortly after leaving, the teen returned to the office and said he did not want to go home. The therapist later told a Rathdrum Police Department officer that the boy said he got into the car, and Durlin angrily said "You told them, didn't you?"
After discussing options with the therapist and a Child Protective Services employee, the officer wrote that they decided to place the boy in protective custody.
Korean-born Adam Crapser spent Thursday morning, his 40th birthday, in a U.S. immigration courtroom in Portland, where the government began what is expected to be a long and complicated fight to deport him from the only country he knows.
Crapser, a Vancouver resident, told reporters after a brief court appearance that he remembers the eruption of Mount St. Helens but not the orphanage from where he was adopted.
"I'm not garbage," he told reporters outside the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. "I don't think human beings are disposable."
Immigration Judge Michael H. Bennett, a balding man with a beatific smile, heard a series of routine cases Thursday - foreign-born residents facing deportation - but there is almost nothing routine about Crapser's story.
He was three years old when he and his sister were adopted from South Korea then split up. Crapser's adoptive parents were abusive and never filed papers that would make him a U.S. citizen.
This past February, U.S. officers knocked on an apartment door in Vancouver, Wash., looking for a man named Adam Crapser. A 39-year-old former barbershop owner and auto-insurance claims estimator, Crapser was now the married stay-at-home father of three children, with another baby on the way. He lived a mostly quiet life, playing the guitar and ukulele, looking after a rescue dog and taking his children to the park and the science museum. But the ICE agents at the door were there to inform him that the agency was opening deportation proceedings that could send him to South Korea.
Crapser was born Shin Song Hyuk, to a mother described in his adoption papers as “Amerasian.” When Crapser was 3, he and his older sister were abandoned and ended up at an orphanage three hours outside of Seoul. A worker there noted that Crapser cried often, played alone and wanted his sister in his sight at all times. After five months, he was on his way to a new home in the United States, along with his sister and a handful of possessions: a pair of green rubber shoes, a Korean-language Bible and a worn stuffed dog.
According to five former workers at Growing God's Kingdom, the West Fork preschool operated by Rep. Justin Harris and his wife, Marsha Harris, the couple's two young adopted daughters were often signed in at the school on days when they were not actually in attendance.
The workers contacted the Times independently of one another after reading our initial March 5 story that revealed the two girls — we've started identifying them by the pseudonyms "Mary" and "Annie" — were sent by the Harrises to live with another family only about seven months after their adoption was finalized. They were ages 5 and 3 at the time they were "rehomed" in late 2013. Mary, the 5-year-old, was then sexually abused by the father at the new home, Eric C. Francis, before the sisters were moved to a third family in early 2014.
Casey and Sandy Parsons were sentenced to federal prison Friday for financial schemes that included cashing monthly assistance checks of $634 for Erica Parsons more than a year after the girl disappeared.
Erica’s adoptive father, Sandy Parsons, was sentenced to 8 years. Her adoptive mother, Casey Parsons, was sentenced to 10 years.
They were sentenced in Winston-Salem by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, who said he gave the couple stiffer sentences after testimony last month described the couple’s cruel treatment of Erica, who was an infant when she came to the Parsons household in Rowan County and 13 years old when she vanished in 2011.
“I have sentenced close to 1,000 people,” Schroeder said during the 2 ½ -hour hearing. “I can’t think of a case that has troubled me more.”
The couple did not speak in court. They were ordered into custody immediately, even though their attorneys had asked that they be allowed to report to prison on their own. The judge said he could not be sure they wouldn’t pose a threat to other people, based on what they did to Erica.