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Former Morris County Army couple receives harsher sentence for child abuse charges


JOSHUA JONGSMA   | NorthJersey

A judge handed down a harsher sentence to a former Army couple Thursday for child abuse that took place at a Morris County military base, authorities announced.

Former Army Maj. John Jackson, 42, and Carolyn Jackson, 40, were convicted on charges of child abuse against their three adopted children that included breaking their bones, starving them and forcing them to eat hot sauce, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. 

From 2005 to 2010, the Jacksons neglected and abused their adopted children as a means to "train" them how to behave, according to Carpenito. They told their biological children not to report it, and when the eldest child did, Carolyn Jackson beat the child 30 times with a belt, Carpenito said. 

The Jacksons beat the children with objects and caused fractures to the skull, spine and upper arms, Carpenito stated. They failed to provide medical attention to the children and withheld food and water. They forced two children to eat red pepper flakes or hot sauce and high-sodium foods while keeping them dehydrated, according to Carpenito.

One time the Jacksons forced a child to eat a raw onion like an apple as punishment for sneaking food and drinking from the toilet, Carpenito stated. 

In 2015 John and Carolyn Jackson were originally sentenced to probation and two years in prison, respectively. On Thursday, Carolyn Jackson was sentenced to 40 months in prison and John Jackson to a longer probation term of three years, according to Carpenito.

The original sentences were thrown out last year by an appeals court because the judge did not correctly apply sentencing guidelines and imposed sentences that didn't reflect the seriousness of the crimes.

"This is a case where the victims were children, horribly abused by the foster parents to whom they were entrusted," Carpenito stated, "A punishment that was severe – but fair – was warranted.”

None of the children remains in the Jacksons' care. 

During a Wednesday hearing, one of the abused girls said while she doesn't remember everything from that period, she remembers "being hit and punished constantly." She added she still bears psychological scars from the abuse.

Her adoptive mother also spoke and told Judge Katharine Hayden the girl spends about seven hours per week in various types of therapy, suffers from anxiety and post-traumatic stress and is prone to violent episodes.

"The Jacksons destroyed her chance for a normal life and crushed her spirit," said the woman.

John Jackson was discharged from the Army in May 2015. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: jongsma@northjersey.com

2018 Apr 12