U.S. Army Major, Wife Resentenced for Abusing Developmentally Disabled Adopted Children
NEWARK, N.J. – A former U.S. Army major and his wife were sentenced today for their respective roles in abusing their adopted children, who all were less than 4 years old and developmentally delayed, through neglectful and cruel acts, including breaking their bones, denying them medical attention, withholding water and force-feeding them hot sauce, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Carolyn Jackson, 40, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and her husband, John E. Jackson, 42, formerly a major in the Army at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, New Jersey, was sentenced to three years of probation. Both will get credit for time already served.
Convicted by a jury in July 2015 on multiple counts of child endangerment, Carolyn Jackson had originally received 24 months in prison, and John E. Jackson had received probation and 400 hours of community service when they were originally sentenced in December 2015. The government appealed their sentences to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which ruled in July 2017 that the District Court had committed several errors in the process of imposing those sentences.
“Obviously, we are disappointed that the court did not agree with the sentences we sought,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “This is a case where the victims were children, horribly abused by the foster parents to whom they were entrusted. A punishment that was severe – but fair was warranted.”
The Jacksons were each found guilty following a four-month 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 also sentenced Carolyn Jackson to three years of supervised release.