U.S. Army major, wife charged with assaulting and abusing foster and adoptive children

Date: 2013-04-30
Source: nj.com

By Jason Grant

Federal authorities have charged an Army major and his wife with abusing their adopted and foster children through beatings, breaking their bones, failing to get them medical help, depriving them of drinking water and training their biological kids to take part in the mistreatment.

According to a 17-count indictment that includes charges of endangering the welfare of a child and assault, John E. Jackson, the Army major, and his wife, Carolyn Jackson, also force-fed the abused children hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

According to reports published on a website called “WorldNetDaily,” the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency in 2010 took the Jacksons’ five children from them, citing an imminent danger to the children after the youngest, who was then 2 years old, was hospitalized.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s office said this morning that all of the Jacksons’ children are in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Authorities also said today that both parents, who lived from 2005 to 2010 with their family at the Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, have been taken into custody. John Jackson, 37, surrendered to federal agents after his 35-year-old wife’s arrest this morning at their home in Mount Holly, authorities said.

Fishman’s office also said the Jacksons appeared in federal court in Newark this morning for an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk. They were temporarily detained pending a bail hearing on Thursday, authorities said.

“Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect,” Fishman said this morning in a statement. “The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation. Along with the FBI, we will continue to seek justice for our communities' most vulnerable victims.”

Authorities, citing the indictment, said the Jacksons conspired to engage in a constant course of neglect and cruelty toward three children they fostered and then adopted, one of whom died in May 2008.

Authorities have declined to provide the ages and names of the children.

Authorities allege the Jacksons told their three biological children not to report the physical assaults to others, saying the punishments and disciplinary techniques were justified, as they were “training” the adopted children how to behave.

After John Jackson was told by a family friend that one of the children had revealed the alleged abuse, he told his wife, authorities said. Carolyn Jackson then retaliated against that child with multiple beatings with a belt, authorities said.

The Jacksons assaulted their children with various objects, causing two children to sustain fractured bones, for which the Jacksons failed to seek prompt medical attention, authorities also allege in the indictment.

They also withheld proper medical care for their adopted children, withheld sufficient nourishment for two of the children, withheld adequate water from two of the children, and, at times, prohibited them from drinking water altogether, authorities say.

As another form of punishment, the couple forced two of the children to consume food intended to cause them pain and suffering, variously including red pepper flakes, hot sauce and raw onion, authorities said. They also caused one child to ingest excessive sodium or sodium-laden substances while being deprived of water, leading to a life-threatening condition, authorities also allege.

If convicted, authorities say, the Jacksons each face a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the 17 counts with which they are charged.

According to “WorldNetDaily” reports from 2011 — one of which is headlined, “Father: ‘My children are being held hostage’” — the Jackson parents are “devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents.”

One article on the website also states that “[d]uring the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says.”

The same article also states John Jackson had accused the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency in 2011 of fraudulently misrepresenting statements by himself and his children to build a case against him, “brainwashing” the children by telling them they have been abused and “isolating” them by not allowing them to be assessed independently by U.S. Army investigators.

According to another website called Tea Party Daily News.com, John Jackson served in active duty in both Kuwait and Iraq, and is a “decorated” veteran. Calling Jackson a “family man” and a “devout Christian and a patriotic American,” an article on the website state the Jacksons’ children took part in a cooperative homeschool program at a local church.

At the Jacksons' home in Mount Holly today, a sticker was seen out front with a decal for “Timothy Christian Academy;” and that sticker indicated the academy is in Eastampton, N.J..


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