New Jersey Couple Sentenced on Federal Child Abuse Charges
NEWARK, NJ—A former U.S. Army major and his wife were sentenced today for abusing their adopted children, who all were less than four years old and developmentally delayed, through neglectful and cruel acts, including by breaking their bones, denying them medical attention, withholding water and force-feeding them hot sauce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Carolyn Jackson, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and her husband, John E. Jackson, 40, formerly a major in the Army at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, New Jersey, was sentenced to 400 hours of community service. The government had been seeking sentences of more than 19 years and more than 15 years, respectively.
“In every case, our office seeks a sentence that is fair and just in punishing the defendants and offering justice to the victims of their crimes,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “In this case, those victims were the children entrusted to the Jacksons’ care. Using the federal sentencing guidelines, our analysis of the crimes of which the Jacksons were convicted by a jury called for severe penalties. Obviously, we are disappointed that the court did not agree.”
The Jacksons were each found guilty in July 2015 following four months of trial before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court of one count of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child; Carolyn Jackson was found guilty of 11 substantive counts of endangering the welfare of a child and John Jackson was found guilty of nine substantive counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Judge Hayden imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.
The case falls under federal jurisdiction because the crimes were committed on a military base. John Jackson was discharged from the Army in May 2015.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
From August 2005 until April 23, 2010, Carolyn and John Jackson conspired to engage in a constant course of neglect and cruelty towards three children they fostered and then adopted. The Jacksons told their biological children not to report the physical assaults to others, saying that the punishments and disciplinary techniques were justified, as they were “training” the adopted children how to behave.
After John Jackson was informed by a family friend that the oldest biological child had revealed the abuse in the Jackson household, John Jackson reported the breach to Carolyn Jackson, who retaliated against that biological child by beating the child 30 times with a belt.
As part of the conspiracy, the Jacksons physically assaulted their adopted children with various objects, causing two children to sustain fractured bones (including a fractured spine, fractured skull and fractured upper arms); failed to seek prompt medical attention for their injuries; withheld sufficient nourishment and food from their adopted children; withheld adequate water from two of their children and, at times, prohibited them from drinking water altogether; forced two of the children to consume foods intended to cause them pain and suffering, such as red pepper flakes and hot sauce, and caused one child to ingest excessive sodium or sodium-laden substances while being deprived of water, leading to a life-threatening condition on two separate occasions in two states. The Jacksons even punished one adopted child, who had to resort to sneaking food and drinking from the toilet, by hitting the child, making the child ingest hot sauce, and forcing the child to eat a raw onion like an apple.
None of the children, adoptive and biological, remain in the custody of the defendants.
Judge Hayden sentenced both of the Jacksons to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s convictions. He also thanked the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, under the command of Major General David E. Quantock, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa L. Jampol and Joseph B. Shumofsky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
- Carolyn Jackson: Rubin Sinins and Herbert Waldman Esqs., Springfield, New Jersey
- John Jackson: David Holman and Carol Gillen Esqs., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Newark