NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An Army major and his wife accused of abusing their three adopted children are free on $250,000 bail each.
John and Carolyn Jackson of Mount Holly appeared in federal court in Newark Thursday. They were ordered to have no contact with children.
They’re charged in a 17-count indictment with endangerment, assault and conspiracy. Prosecutors allege the couple broke bones, withheld food and forced their children to consumer hot sauce and peppers.
EXTRA: Read The Full Indictment
The alleged abuse happened between Aug. 2005 and April 2010 while the couple lived at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, according to the indictment.
The couple has three biological and three foster children who they later adopted, authorities said.
Authorities said the Jacksons told their three biological children that punishments against their adopted kids were justified because they were “training” them how to behave. They also told the children not to report the alleged abuse to others, prosecutors said.
“Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Tuesday. “The crimes alleged should not happen to any child anywhere and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation.”
In past interviews, the Jackson family has denied the allegations saying investigators brainwashed the children by telling them they were abused.
The Jackson children are in the custody of New Jersey’s Children and Families Department. One of the children died in 2008, but the death was determined not to be caused by abuse or neglect.
Prosecutors said the case falls under federal jurisdiction because the alleged crimes were committed on a military base.
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