Feds: S.J. couple charged with ‘unimaginable’ child cruelty

Maj. John E. Jackson and Carolyn Jackson. This photo has been modified to blur the face of a child.
Maj. John E. Jackson and Carolyn Jackson. This photo has been modified to blur the face of a child.
Posted: May 01, 2013

A U.S. Army major and his wife were arrested at their South Jersey home this morning and charged with multiple counts of "unimaginable cruelty" in the abuse of their three biological and two foster children.

Maj. John E. Jackson, 37, and Carolyn Jackson, 35, surrendered to federal authorities in Mount Holly, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

The Jacksons allegedly broke the children's bones, force fed them hot chile pepper flakes, starved them and withheld drinking water, then having one of the kids guard a toilet to prevent another parched child from drinking from it.

The parents allegedly told their biological children they were "training" the foster kids and they should not report the assaults or cruelty to anyone.

The incidents occurred between August 2005 and April 2010, many of them at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County.

"Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect, said U.S. Attorney Fishman. "The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation."

A federal grand jury charged the Jacksons in a 17-count indictment with three counts of assault, 13 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of conspiracy to endanger, Fishman said. The indictment was unsealed this morning.

The couple apparently has been under investigation for at least two years by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.

According to a website, ReuniteJackson7.com, the children were taken into protective custody by the state in 2010 after one of the children was rushed to an emergency room to be treated for dehydration.

Maj. Jackson, according to the site, is a devout Christian and a decorated veteran who saw service in Kuwait and Iraq. In an interview with a Tea Party publication, he claimed the state "stripped him of both Constitutional and Civil Rights".

The children were being homeschooled at a church, the site says. Supporters claim the Jacksons are victims of religious persecution.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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