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Legislators weigh in on Sherwood toddler case

Parents allege babysitter abused 1-year-old, but no charges have yet been filed

Several elected officials are pushing the state government to do everything it can for a Sherwood couple that claims that their 1-year-old son was beaten by a babysitter.

Two weeks ago, Joshua Marbury and Alicia Quinney of Sherwood took to social media after their son, Jacob, was allegedly beaten by a babysitter while the couple were away.

They told police and showed photographs of their son’s bruises, but the Washington County district attorney’s office has not prosecuted the case, saying that Oregon law requires that victims of child abuse be able to describe their injuries.

At issue, prosecutors said, is a 2012 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling which makes it tougher for prosecutors to charge people in abuse cases when the victim can’t physically speak.

Under Oregon law, the victim would need to describe the injuries sustained in order for the state to prosecute — which is difficult, since the boy is too young to speak.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office has declined to comment on the specifics surrounding this case because the case is still open.

But Sherwood’s elected legislators, Rep. John Davis and Sen. Kim Thatcher, sent a letter to Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann last week, calling for police and prosecutors to bring justice to the family.

“I am shocked to hear the alleged details of this case,” the two wrote in a joint letter. “I urge you to do everything within your power to hold accountable the person responsible for causing Jacob such pain and trauma.”

Davis sponsored a senate bill that would have expanded the definition of physical injury to include trauma when a person is a vulnerable victim.

“This policy change would likely have made a difference for this family and others in similar situations,” Davis wrote in an email on Friday.

That bill failed to make it out of committee.

Davis, who is not running for re-election, said that he believes the law should also be changed.

“Although I will not be returning for the 2017 legislative session, I continue to support this concept moving forward,” he said.

The bill is expected to be reintroduced next year by Rep. Andy Olson (R-Albany) and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham).

“I have also reached out to the Marbury family to express my support for them and my abhorrence to what has taken place,” Davis said.

Ray Lister, the Democratic candidate for Sherwood’s House District 26 — which includes Wilsonville, Bull Mountain and a large stretch of rural Washington County up to Aloha — said he had heard about the incident and is hoping the state will change the law.

“I have a call in to DA Bob Herman to express my concerns about this legal loophole,” he said last week. “I want to find out how we can work together in the Legislature to make sure we adequately protect victims who can’t speak for themselves.”

Lister’s opponent in the November race, Scholls resident Richard Vial, did not return a phone call from The Times by its Wednesday press deadline.

How did we get here?

The couple left their 1-year-old son in the care of a family friend on March 19 while they went on a night out, they said. When they returned that night, they found the boy crying and their babysitter asleep.

The next morning, they found bruises on the boy’s body. He had a black eye and bruises along much of his body.

“The first thing I saw was his black eye, and at first I thought, ‘What happened to his eye?’ And then he turned over and I saw the whole side of his face was black-and-blue,” Quinney told The Times’ news partner, KOIN 6 News.

Quinney said that the friend at first denied knowing what had happened, then said that he had dropped the baby on cement outside.

Quinney and Marbury said the babysitter later admitted to police to hitting the boy, but no arrest has been made. The couple’s 3-year-old daughter saw what happened, Quinney said, and is in counseling.

Capt. Mark Daniel, a spokesman with the Sherwood Police Department, confirmed police began investigating the incident on March 20. The investigation was recently turned over to the Washington County District Attorney’s office.

Daniel said police consider the babysitter a suspect but declined to name him.

Two weeks ago, the couple learned that no charges would be brought against the alleged abuser.

Marbury took to Facebook, posting photos of his bruised son and expressing outrage over inaction by the district’s attorney’s office.

“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,” Marbury wrote in his Facebook post. “I am SO furious that I’m not using profanity HOPING something is done and this goes viral.”

Viral it went, generating more than 30,000 shares online. The story gained international attention with stories appearing on “Good Morning America” and in the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom.

Family members have set up a petition on the website Change.org, calling for a change in state law that would allow prosecutors to “serve justice to the abuser.”

That petition has garnered more than 50,930 signatures as of The Times’ press deadline, and an online fundraiser on GoFundMe.com has raised more than $7,200 for the family.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.