The couple's biological son served as a key witness in the trial, detailing the horrific abuses he witnessed at home

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 09, 2015 12:00 PM
Credit: Julio Cortez/AP

An Army major and his wife have been convicted on federal child abuse charges for beating and starving their three foster children, who were all under the age of 4 at the time.

John Jackson and his wife Carolyn were found guilty Wednesday of almost all of the 24 charges they faced, including conspiring to endanger the children’s welfare and assault, the FBI said in a press release.

Prosecutors said the couple, who are parents to three biological children as well, systematically beat and starved their foster kids from 2005 to 2010 for their bad behavior, which included offenses like being too slow to get in a car seat.

The forms of punishment were varied but equally brutal. They beat the children until their bones were broken, with one even sustaining a fractured spine. Food and water were withheld from two of the children, who were then in turn forced to consume food “intended to cause them pain and suffering,” prosecutors said. This included hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

“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,” prosecutors said.

It was the second trial for the couple after a mistrial was declared last year when a prosecutor accidentally mentioned that one of the three foster children died – a fact the jury was not supposed to hear because a medical examiner ruled that the 2-year-old’s May 2008 death was due to “natural causes.”

The Jacksons’ biological son served as a key witness in the trial, detailing the horrific abuses he witnessed at the home. He told the jury that his parents would cite Bible verses to justify their behavior.

“Foolishness is bound up in heart of the child but the rod of correction will drive it out,” was one of such verses, the teen boy testified.

None of the children – biological or adopted – are currently in the Jacksons’ custody.

The couple had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Their sentencing is scheduled for October.

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