An Army Major and his wife stationed at Picatinny Arsenal were in court Tuesday morning for pretrial hearings after being accused of beating their foster children with objects and withholding water and medical attention over the course of five years.
John E. Jackson and his wife, Carolyn Jackson, of Mount Holly, were indicted in 2013 on 17 counts – including 14 counts of endangering the welfare a child, and another three counts of assault – for crimes that were allegedly committed on the Picatinnay Arsenal base, located in Rockaway Township.
United States Attorney Paul Fishman said the parents, who adopted the three children, withheld water from two of the children and had their own biological children prevent the others from drinking from the toilet or sink.
Objects were allegedly used to assault the adopted children, Fishman said, which resulted in fractured bones. The children were not allowed by their parents to receive medical attention, Fishman said.
"As another form of punishment, Carolyn and John Jackson 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," Fishman's office said after the indictment was returned. "They also caused one child to ingest excessive sodium or sodium-laden substances while being deprived of water, leading to a life-threatening condition."
Each parent faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the 17 counts and a maximum of $250,000 fine for each count.
Judge Katharine Hayden presided over the pretrial hearings Tuesday morning in Newark.