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Press Release

New Jersey Couple Convicted On Federal Child Abuse Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A former U.S. Army major and his wife were convicted today on federal charges that they abused their adopted children, who all were less than 4 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, 37, and John E. Jackson, 40, formerly a Major in the Army at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, New Jersey, who was discharged from the Army in May 2015, were each found guilty 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 following four months of trial before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated four days before delivering the guilty verdicts.

The case falls under federal jurisdiction because the crimes were committed on a military base.

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.

Carolyn and John Jackson each face a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the counts on which they were convicted, as well as a maximum $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 13, 2015.

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.

Defense counsel:

Carolyn Jackson: Rubin Sinins and Herbert Waldman Esqs., Springfield

John Jackson: David Holman and Carol Gillen Esqs., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Newark

Updated July 8, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-265