Two years ago, the hardline-conservative website WorldNetDaily (WND) took up the cause of Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers who claimed they were experiencing terrible religious discrimination when they had their biological, adopted, and foster children taken away from them.
“It’s every parent’s nightmare,” WND said, taking the side of the parents despite allegations of harsh physical punishment for their adopted kids that resulted in bone fractures and severe dehydration.
For quotes, the site only used interviews with the Jacksons and their attorney, Grace T. Meyer, who is affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association. No one from the state or from child protective services made it into the WND article, nor did reporter Bryan Fitzpatrick consult children’s advocates or medical personnel; nor did he interview neighbors, or schoolmates of the children, or police officers. Fitzpatrick wrote he had called the child-protection agency and was told that no one could comment due to confidentiality rules — and that was that.
WND presented the Jackson saga as a case about civil liberties and freedom of religion.
Funny story: Yesterday, John Jackson surrendered to federal agents, following his wife’s arrest earlier that day at their home in Mount Holly, NJ.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement that the couple are guilty of
“…unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect. The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation.”
The Jacksons are accused of engaging in a pattern of neglect and cruelty toward three children they fostered and then adopted, one of whom died in May 2008.
Like everyone else charged with a crime, they should be considered innocent until their guilt is established in court.
The U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that the Jacksons physically and mentally abused their adopted and foster children through beatings, breaking their bones, failing to get them medical help, depriving them of water, and training their biological kids to take part in the mistreatment.
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 told their three biological children not to tell others of the physical assaults because
…the punishments and disciplinary techniques were justified [they said], as they were “training” the adopted children how to behave. …
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.
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.
Another form of discipline was force-feeding the adopted children spicy or salty foodstuffs, authorities say. If true, it makes the alleged water-withholding a special kind of cruel.
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.
According to NBC News,
…the couple even made one of their biological children stand guard to make sure the foster children would not be able to quench their thirst with water from the toilet. …
One child in the Jacksons’ care died in 2008, but details are sketchy. The Associated Press says that
The Jacksons weren’t charged directly with the child’s death but are charged with assaulting the child and failing to seek prompt medical care. The Jackson children are in the custody of New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Kristine Brown, a spokeswoman for the department, said the one child’s death was determined not to be caused by abuse or neglect.
An apparently dormant website protesting the Jacksons’ innocence reports that Carolyn Jackson has a remarkable background for a suspect in this kind of crime.
Carolyn has a BS in Individual and Family Studies specializing in ‘at risk’ families.
It would be interesting to learn what WorldNetDaily, whose readers leapt to John and Carolyn Jackson’s defense two years ago, makes of the latest developments in the case. At present (early Wednesday morning), the site hasn’t reported on the Jacksons’ arrest and on the U.S. Attorney’s case against the couple.
UPDATE: Friday morning — two days later. Still nothing.
[image via NBC News]