An Oregon couple went out on a date back in March and left their 1-year-old son home with a babysitter.
They returned later that evening to find the child screaming as the sitter slept on the couch. When they awoke the next morning, they were horrified to discover bruises all over their son’s face and body.
Medical professionals and law enforcement later confirmed that the child had been abused. But even after the the babysitter confessed to hitting the baby, no arrests were made.
The boy’s father, Joshua Marbury, took to Facebook Friday to voice his frustrations over an Oregon court ruling he claims protected his son Jacob’s abuser. The post quickly went viral, gaining nearly 185,000 shares in two days.
Marbury wrote that multiple doctors pointed out handprints on Jacob’s body, and one detective informed him and his wife that the abuse could’ve killed their son.
According to the Oregonian, Jacob’s parents learned Friday the case would not be prosecuted, despite photo documentation of the abuse, thanks to a 2012 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that prosecutors say made it more difficult to file charges in abuse cases with victims who are unable to speak.
"Something needs to be done," Marbury wrote. "NOBODY can just hit a child and more to just get away with it because the child (can't) verbally tell you."
In January 2015, the Oregonian published a piece titled, "Even pets are better protected than young kids under Oregon abuse laws, prosecutors say." The piece explains that in order to convict a suspected child abuser of felony assault or criminal mistreatment, prosecutors must prove that the victim experienced "substantial pain."
The new law presented the possibility that children and adults who are not able to or do not want to articulate the extent of their suffering may never see justice.
“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,” Marbury’s post continued.
The law does specify another option for proving a "physical injury" – that the victim suffered an "impairment of a physical condition." Unfortunately for Jacob’s parents, however, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that welts, bruises and shallow cuts do not count.
"My trust with so many people is shot," Jacob’s mother, Alicia Quinney, told the Oregonian. "This isn't something we can move on from."
Quinney said she wants the law to be amended to better protect victims like her son. She also wants her son’s admitted abuser to be held accountable.
Judging by the reception Marbury's Facebook post received, it would appear that the couple will not have trouble finding those who sympathize with their grievances.
Washington County Deputy District Attorney Dustin Staten, the prosecutor handling Jacob’s case, told the Oregonian he hadn't previously seen the photos Marbury father posted to Facebook on Friday.
"Seeing those photos has caused me to want to take a different path," Staten said in a phone interview Saturday.
Though investigative photos were taken in Jacob's case, Staten said "there's additional people I need to consult with based on those photos I've seen today."