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US Atty: NJ Couple Charged With 'Unimaginable Cruelty To Children'

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey Army major and his wife have been arrested on child endangerment charges stemming from a 17-count indictment.

John and Carolyn Jackson were detained Tuesday pending a bail hearing.

The Mount Holly couple is charged with one count of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child, 13 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of assault, authorities said.

NJ Couple Faces Federal Child Abuse Charges

The two are accused of denying their children food, water and medical care and physically abusing them, including breaking bones and force-feeding them hot sauce, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.

EXTRA: Read The Full Indictment

The couple has three biological and three foster children who they later adopted, authorities said.

"Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect," Fishman said in a statement. "The crimes alleged should not happen to any child anywhere and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation."

The alleged abuse happened between Aug. 2005 and April 2010 while the couple lived at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, according to the indictment.

Authorities said the Jacksons told their three biological children that punishments against their adopted kids were justified because they were "training" them how to behave. They also told the children not to report the abuse to others, prosecutors said.

The Jacksons also allegedly punished one of their adopted kids after the child was caught sneaking food or water and then forced one of their biological children to prevent that child from drinking out of sinks and toilets, according to the indictment.

"It got so bad that one of the children was trying to drink from the toilet she was so thirsty," Fishman told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg.

One of the adopted children died in 2008, but the Jacksons are not charged with that death.

In past interviews, the Jackson family has denied the allegations saying investigators brainwashed the children by telling them they were abused.

All of the children are currently in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

If convicted, Carolyn and John Jackson each face up to 10 years in prison on each of the 17 counts.

Prosecutors said the case falls under federal jurisdiction because the alleged crimes were committed on a military base.

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