This Little Boy Was Nearly Beaten To Death–And The Attacker May Get Away With It

Jacob Marbury, after being nearly killed by his babysitter (image courtesy Joshua Marbury's Facebook)
Jacob Marbury, after being nearly killed by his babysitter (image courtesy Joshua Marbury’s Facebook)

Two months ago, a baby boy in Sherwood, Oregon was nearly killed by his babysitter. Now, to pile obscenity on top of insult and injury, the boy’s parents found out on Friday that the attacker could potentially get off scot-free–all because recent court rulings have made it harder for prosecutors to protect abuse victims.

One night in March, Joshua Marbury and his girlfriend, Alicia Quinney, came home from a dinner date to find their one-year-old son, Jacob Marbury, screaming uncontrollably, and their babysitter snoozing on the couch. The next morning, Quinney looked in on Jacob, and found what looked like a black eye. She then discovered that “the whole right side of his face,” as well as his right ear, right arm, and back, coated in bruises.

Marbury and Quinney immediately rushed Jacob to the hospital. Doctors, as well as the lead investigator on the case from the Sherwood Police Department, told them that Jacob was very lucky to be alive. Doctors were actually able to detect the handprint of the attacker, and the detective told them that the attacker had hit Jacob so hard that he could have died. Quinney later revealed on Facebook that the babysitter admitted that he “hit… dragged… & smothered” Jacob.

Now here’s where this story really gets hideous. On Friday, Marbury and Quinney learned that the babysitter would not be prosecuted. Washington County deputy district attorney Dustin Slaten told them that recent rulings from the Oregon Court of Appeals have made it extremely difficult for prosecutors to prove that a victim suffered a “physical injury” at the hands of an attacker–the standard required to find an abuser guilty of felony assault or criminal mistreatment.

In 2009, a babysitter was convicted of criminal mistreatment for spanking a boy so hard that it left his flesh in a color chart of bruises. However, the Appeals Court tossed out that conviction in 2009. It ruled that in order to prove someone suffered a “physical injury,” prosecutors must prove the victim suffered “substantial pain” or “impairment of a physical condition.” However, that same court found that in order to prove “substantial pain,” the victim must be able to talk about the pain he or she suffered.

As any parent knows, it is extremely difficult for anyone younger than five years old to tell anyone about any pain they experience. The same holds for people of any age who suffer from autism or other developmental problems. Additionally, welts, bruises, and shallow cuts aren’t considered “impairment” under current precedent. As a result, Slaten felt his hands were tied.

Like any parents who heard such outrageous news, Marbury and Quinney hit the ceiling. He took to Facebook with pictures of the beating the babysitter inflicted on Jacob. He couldn’t understand why prosecutors didn’t think they could do anything, even though the attacker admitted his despicable actions.

“A dead body cant tell you who killed them. Yet a baby isnt held to the same standard because he cant talk???? Well neither can a dead body. THATS BLASPHEMY.”

Quinney wrote a Facebook post of her own saying that their three-year-old daughter saw the whole thing, and is currently in counseling. She later told The (Portland) Oregonian that Jacob has become “a mama’s boy times 100” since the beating, and she isn’t comfortable leaving him around other people.

When Slaten saw the pictures, he said they made him “take a different path,” and hinted that he may reopen the case. Under current circumstances, though, it’s still possible Jacob’s attacker could walk.

It turns out that Jacob isn’t the first kid ensnared in this ridiculous precedent. Since 2012, numerous child abuse cases have run aground because their ordeals didn’t meet the Court of Appeals’ definition of “substantial pain.” According to two prosecutors interviewed by The Oregonian in January, it’s easier to send an attacker to jail for assaulting a pet than it is for assaulting a child. What’s wrong with this picture?

Several Oregon cops and prosecutors have lobbied the state legislature to close these disgraceful loopholes. They want the definition of “physical injury” changed so that victims don’t have to talk about the pain, but also broaden the definition to include cuts, bruises, punctures, fractures, and other injuries. Hopefully this travesty will make the legislature act sooner.

However, several friends of Marbury and Quinney aren’t taking any chances. They want the state Supreme Court to overturn the 2012 ruling just in case the legislature doesn’t act. Sign here.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.