When Jacob Maybury’s parents arrived home from a night out, they expected to find their tiny son sound asleep. Instead they found him screaming and his babysitter asleep on the couch.
The next morning, the one-year-old woke up covered in bruises. He also had a black eye and a palm print on his face.
His distressed parents immediately went to the police but were told after two months that charges had been dropped against the babysitter, a former friend of the family, even though he allegedly confessed smacking the child.
“My one-year-old son was smacked across the right side of his face by our babysitter … to the point where multiple doctors [who in fact showed us hand prints] and the detective said it could have killed him,” Jacob’s father Joshua Marbury wrote in a furious Facebook post.
“We had a confession from the abuser saying they did it. Still this person was not arrested… 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.”
In Oregon, where the family lives, a 2012 law makes it almost impossible to file charges when a victim is unable to speak.
This includes victims of child abuse, but also victims with disabilities that cause them to be non-verbal.
As Marbury points out, “A dead body can’t tell you who killed them. Yet a baby isn’t held to the same standard because he cant talk?
“Nobody can just hit a child and more to just get away with it because the child cant verbally tell you.”
Jacob’s mother, Alicia Quinney said the lack of accountability was extremely upsetting and labelled the laws “disturbing”.
“It’s so disturbing that they can let somebody walk around and live their life while my whole family is traumatized from this,” she told the New York Daily News.
She said while her son has recovered from the physical trauma, he has been left emotionally scarred by the incident.
“He definitely recovered from the bruises, but inside, this is going to follow him,” she said.
Marbury’s Facebook post has been shared more than 250,000 times and an online petition has been launched to have the law changed.