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February 04, 2005

Man gets 20 to life in sex abuse case

February 4, 2005 [Times-News writer] By Rebecca Meany

TWIN FALLS -- For a crime that prosecutors described as an "obscene abuse," a 5th District Judge ordered a 20-year-old man Thursday to serve 20 years to life in prison for sodomizing an infant.

Adam Dean Jackman, of Filer, pleaded guilty on Nov. 8 to one felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor in connection with the Dec. 3, 2003, sexual abuse of a 17-month-old boy.

At his sentencing hearing in front of Judge Richard Bevan, Jackman appeared dressed in orange jail attire, his hands and feet shackled.

As the defendant stood to address the victim's family, court personnel unfastened his handcuffs so he could use sign language to communicate with the baby's mother, who he was dating at the time of the incident. He also spoke out loud:

"I want to start by telling you and your whole family how sorry I am for what happened," Jackman said. "I know there's no way I can fix what happened."

He stopped to fight back tears, then continued:

"I know there's nobody to blame but myself," he said. "I wish every day I could take it back. More than anything, I want (the baby) to know I'm sorry for what happened. He did nothing to deserve what I did. None of you did. I wish there was some way I could go back and take back the pain from the whole family."

Still choked with emotion, Jackman turned to the judge.

"I know there's no excuse at all for anything that I did," Jackman said. "I hope that someday I will make amends somehow. I don't know how or if that's possible. I won't try to minimize this whatsoever. This is the worst thing you could ever do to anybody."

Jackman's public defender, Marilyn Paul, asked the judge for a 5- to 7-year sentence, saying her client has no significant adult criminal record.

"There is nothing to show ... any type of pattern of sexual victimization of others," she said.

Paul told the court Jackman is extremely remorseful and wants to get treatment for his methamphetamine habit.

Grant Loebs, Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney, asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty of life in prison.

"The state cannot see any reason why the court would ever feel safe allowing him to be released from prison," he said. "It's an unspeakable crime to a defenseless child. He needs to have somebody watching him -- probation and parole officers -- making sure that when he snaps, he can be caught quickly. Hopefully, he won't snap, but with Larry Gold's assessment, he likely will."

Lawrence Gold, who conducted a psycho-sexual evaluation of Jackman, told the court he believes Jackman has borderline personality disorder, among other issues.

"It's one of the most painful disorders to have in your life," Gold said. "The primary characteristic is a frantic effort to avoid real or imagined abandonment."

Gold said Jackman acted out in anger when the baby's mother went to the library with the baby's father.

Gold also said Jackman exhibited a level of callousness brought on by lifelong suffering from psychological disorders, as well as his own sexual abuse as a child.

"Adam's collapse of caring or his ability to relate to this child as a baby ... has its roots in both Adam's abuse, the way he was brought up and the methamphetamine that just destroys his conscience."

Jackman claimed to have been up for three days on methamphetamine when the sexual assault occurred.

Jackman has continuously denied that he was responsible for ligature -- or strangulation -- marks on the infant.

But Loebs asked Jackman how he held the baby down while "assaulting" him.

Jackman made no reply.

Loebs asked Gold about the possibility for rehabilitation for a person who suffers from myriad disorders.

Gold responded that the potential was "very low."

Loebs said he wished Idaho had a hospital for the criminally insane so Jackman could get the appropriate treatment while being kept from society. Gold said he would be willing to give the defendant treatment if the court so ordered.

Before issuing his decision, Judge Bevan said that lewd conduct with a minor is one of the most serious crimes that can come before the court.

"This was a horrendously violent event," Bevan told Jackman. "There's clearly undue risk you'll commit another crime of a significant nature."

The judge said a fixed life sentence would be "overly harsh, with no hope for what future may come."

In 20 years, minus 427 days for time served, Jackman will come before the state parole board, which will decide if he's ready to be released.

Jackman will have to register as a sex offender in any county in which he lives, and he must pay a $5,000 fine in addition to counseling and medical bills for the victim.

Filer police took Jackman into custody on Dec. 4, 2003, but he escaped, handcuffed, from the back of a patrol car. He allegedly stole a car and drove to his father's house in Horseshoe Bend, where authorities arrested him the next day.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped injury to child and grand theft charges in exchange for Jackman's guilty plea to the lewd conduct charge.

Times-News writer Rebecca Meany can be reached at 735-3259

Posted by Nancy at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Parents Charged In 'Worst Case Of Abuse Ever Seen'

February 4, 2005 [Local - KPRC Click2Houston.com]

In what Houston police call "the worst case of abuse ever seen," a young mother and father were charged with the alleged sexual abuse of their 6-month-old daughter, Local 2 reported Friday.

Police filed a serious bodily injury to a child charge against the baby's parents. However, if the child dies, the charges could be upgraded to capital murder.

The parents were taken in for questioning Wednesday after Texas Children's Hospital workers notified police that their daughter showed signs of abuse and sexual assault.

Investigators said the infant remains in critical condition at the hospital with multiple internal and external injuries throughout her body.

"This is the worst case of abuse that I've personally seen," Houston Police Department Sgt. Randy Upton said. "She had some skull fractures, brain contusions, hemorrhaging, liver injuries, lung and kidney problems, signs of sexual abuse, as well as a severe laceration across her tongue."

Doctors found more injuries upon closer examination.

"In addition to all the internal injuries she had, she also had two broken legs and a broken arm and a broken vertebrae," said Estella Olquin, with Child Protective Services.

The couple, who lives in the 1000 block of Gargan in north Houston, originally took their daughter to Doctor's Hospital Parkway and told medical workers the child was experiencing congestion problems. Hospital officials transferred the infant to Texas Children's Hospital, where the girl was placed in the intensive care unit barely alive.

Police said the baby was breathing on her own Friday but is reportedly experiencing internal bleeding.

Authorities are now investigating injuries discovered in the couple's older child, a 15-month-old daughter.

"The second child had an injury that was healing, a fractured skull, as well as some fractured ribs," Upton said.

Police said the couple's oldest daughter has been placed in a foster home.

Friday afternoon during a placement hearing, a judge ruled that both the baby and her sister would remain in the custody of Child Protective Services pending further investigation.

The judge ordered that family members have no contact with the children.

"We're going to want to know how is it that these family members that are parents around these children didn't know that they were so hurt," Olquin said.

The parents were placed behind bars Friday without bond. If convicted of injury to a child, each faces up to 99 years in prison.

The father was previously charged with injury to a child in connection with alleged abuse against the 15-month-old daughter; however, the case was dismissed in August 2004. The mother has no criminal history.

Both girls were returned to the parents in October after the charges were dropped. They lived with their grandparents during the investigation.

Posted by Nancy at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Child-abuse audit faults agency

February 4, 2005 [Gannett State Bureau]
By Jonathan Tamari

A state agency responsible for investigating thousands of allegations of child abuse and neglect has a massive backlog and is too slow in completing its work, according to an audit by the state Office of the Child Advocate.

The report studied the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit in the Department of Human Services. The unit examines alleged child abuse in out-of-home settings such as foster homes, schools or other institutions.

"This is just not good enough for our children. No way," said Child Advocate Kevin M. Ryan. "IAIU is the safety net for children who have been removed from their families."

The report also said the agency's professional judgment improved only slightly after a previous audit and found particular problems in its South Jersey offices. Investigators often failed to do proper background checks, and the state sometimes placed children in

settings with a history of abuse, the audit found.

As of Nov. 30, the IAIU had 956 uncompleted investigations that were past due. The number of overdue cases rose 445 percent from Oct. 1, 2003 to the end of November, the report said.

Human Services Commissioner James M. Davy vowed to correct the problems found in the report. He said the state is beginning its five-year child-welfare-reform plan and that improvements for the IAIU were on the way before the audit.

"This unit is critical to our mission of protecting children, and we must get better," Davy said in a statement.

While the Division of Youth and Family Services examines alleged abuses of children within their own homes, IAIU performs a similar task in other settings. IAIU had 2,817 referrals in 2003, the most recent year for which that data is available.

The Child Advocate's office and readers from the Rutgers University Center for Children and Families reviewed 161 IAIU cases investigated between Nov. 1, 2003 and May 31. The study included 131 cases where investigators reached a conclusion.

The Department of Human Services has hired 14 new investigators for the unit and plans to add more with a goal of eliminating the backlog within eight months. Ryan wants faster results.

"This has got to be a priority," Ryan said.

Ryan cited the South Jersey region, which includes Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, as having particular problems. The region had the largest backlog and only found one case of "substantiated" abuse among those studied by auditors. That case was only substantiated after Ryan's office intervened to question an earlier finding.

Overall, auditors disagreed with IAIU findings in 21 of the 131 completed cases they reviewed.

In one such case, a man admitted to beating his foster child with a belt, but the unit did not substantiate claims of abuse.

Auditors agreed with IAIU findings in 102 cases with a conclusion, or 78 percent. Ryan said this was a "modest" improvement over a 75 percent rate found in a study two years ago.

IAIU investigators failed to do background checks for more than half of the alleged abusers, the report said. Four of the alleged perpetrators who were checked had a prior case of substantiated abuse, leading to questions about communications between investigators and DYFS, which is responsible for placing children in safe settings, Ryan said.

There were, however, some high points. The report found a case in which enterprising investigators helped thwart a cover-up. Another investigator found witnesses that even police had missed.

Ryan said more training and supervision is needed for investigators whose work falls short.

Ryan said his office will begin another audit this summer. DHS is required to formally respond to the report within 30 days.

Posted by Nancy at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)