Parents seek justice, turn to social media in child abuse case
SHERWOOD, Ore. -- A picture of an Oregon toddler allegedly bruised by his babysitter has gone viral.
Sherwood residents Alicia Quinney and her boyfriend went on a date back in March, leaving Quinney's 1-year-old son Jacob in the care of a family friend for about 2 hours.
When they got home later that night, the babysitter was asleep on the couch and Jacob was crying hysterically.
"The next morning, he woke up and that's when I saw Jacob," Quinney said. "The first thing I saw was a black eye."
They rushed Jacob to the hospital where he underwent several tests and filed a police report.
Sherwood Police say they do not believe the parents were responsible for the bruises. Instead, detectives say they are certain the babysitter, who KATU is not naming because he has not been charged, is responsible.
Weeks later and with no arrest, Jacob's dad Joshua Marbury turned to social media detailing their ordeal and posting the heartbreaking pictures, which show Jacob in the bath with a black eye and severe bruising on the right side of his face.
As of Sunday morning, the post had been shared nearly 200,000 times.
While the Washington County District Attorney's office says a final decision on whether they will file charges has not been made, a spokesperson for Sherwood Police says Oregon law would be difficult to prosecute Jacob's alleged abuser.
The law in reference is the 2012 ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals which makes it difficult to prove "substantial pain" in child abuse cases where the victim cannot speak. The legal interpretation makes it difficult to file charges in cases where the child is an infant or toddler, developmentally challenged or scared to speak out against their alleged abuser.
Paul Mones is a California attorney licensed in Oregon who specializes in children's right's cases. He is not connected to the case but sees clear-cut issues with the 2012 ruling.
"It's giving a license to those abusers to injure children. If those children were in California, for example, or across the border -- across the bridge up in Washington, that would not be the situation because the mere fact of the presence of bruises. The mere fact of the presence of scratches, etc. is an objective indicator of the injury," Mones said. "To really look at the issue of whether a person can verbalize the emotional pain or can verbalize 'Oh, I can't move my arm' is really against everything we know about modern understanding of child abuse and the effect on children."
In an email to KATU News, the Washington County District Attorney's Office says they are continuing to evaluate how the ruling would effect their ability to prosecute the case.
"His whole face, arm, back... [there were] bruises everywhere! He was screaming! He was crying! How does a baby communicate? They cry," Quinney said. "It's not fair and I want my son to have justice and I want everybody else who is dealing with this to be able to come forward and be the voice for the people that need help."
Since KATU's story aired, a Change.org petition has been set up asking the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn the 2012 ruling to ensure Justice for Jacob."
There is also a GoFundMe account called #JusticeforJacob that has raised more than $4,000 for the family. Quinney told KATU the money will go toward helping household expenses and counseling for the couple's oldest child who they say has been showing signs of regression since her brother's abuse.