A babysitter accused of abusing a 1-year-old boy by his parents has been arrested and charged after an Oregon community and countless social media users rallied around the child and demanded action from officials.
The arrest came after his parents, Alicia Quinney and Joshua Marbury, took to Facebook to express frustration over the legal system, and to seek justice for their son Jacob.
Marbury posted a picture of the couple’s badly-bruised little boy on Facebook last month. He took the pictures after they came home to find Jacob on the floor crying, and his babysitter — identified as Markell Hilaire — asleep on the couch.
“The first thing I saw was Jacob’s black eye,” Quinney told KPTV. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?’ And he turned over and the whole side of his face was black and blue.”
Quinney and Marbury said they took their son to the hospital after the incident, where doctors and social workers took pictures, documenting the injuries. They also filed a police report.
A spokesman with the Sherwood Police Department confirmed the case was under investigation, saying it was in the hands of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.
Marbury said he posted the photos on social media after he waited for two months, only to find out authorities had declined to arrest Hilaire because of a loophole in a state law.
The babysitter was shielded by a 2012 Oregon Court of Appeal ruling that, according to prosecutors, makes it more difficult to file charges in abuse cases where the victims cannot speak — including incidents involving infants, the Oregonian reported.
Marbury wrote on Facebook:
"After several days if not week of being distracted at my job (only commission sales job and only source of income) we had a confession from the abuser saying they did it. STILL this person was not arrested because they had to build a case and a jury to find him guilty BEFORE they go to jail. Side note if im not mistaken (if i strike a person in the face and the cops were called i would be put in hand cuffs immediately). After TWO months of waiting we only find out that charges are dropped BECAUSE my one year old cannot tell you verbally he was abused and my son did not show he was in pain OR that this person "intentionally" did this."
The Washington County district attorney charged Hilaire with criminal mistreatment and assault after the Facebook post was shared more than 400,000 times.
"Although charges were filed in this particular case, the need to fix Oregon law to protect vulnerable victims remains. Under current Oregon law, animals are more protected from physical injury than many children," the prosecutor's office said in a statement to KPTV.