A baby-sitter who allegedly smacked a 1-year-old, leaving visible bruises and a palm print, has been arrested after months of social media uproar about the case and a state law, according to published reports.
The case prompted the local district attorney’s office to put out a statement asking for the law to be changed.
Markell D. Hilaire, of Tacoma, Washington, turned himself in on June 6 after being indicted on charges of criminal mistreatment and third- and fourth-degree assault, police told Oregon Live. On Monday, Hillaire pleaded not guilty.
The newspaper website said that Hilaire was baby-sitting Jacob Marbury in March. When Alicia Quinney and Joshua Marbury, of Sherwood, Oregon, came home they said they found their son crying and covered in bruises and Hilaire asleep on the couch.
Quinney and Marbury turned to social media on May 20 once they learned that charges would not be filed because the toddler could not make a statement of the abuse and prove “substantial pain,” which is required under Oregon law, according to local media outlets.
“I am SO furious that im not using profanity HOPING something is done and this goes viral,” Marbury posted on Facebook, using the hashtag #JusticeforJacob.
Marbury’s post has been shared more than 400,000 times and has received thousands of comments.
“This is just sick. . . I can't even look at those pictures. That is so terrible :( I'm so sorry this happened.” commenter Melissa Gleason wrote in response to Marbury’s Facebook post.
It’s unclear what exactly prompted police to move forward and file charges, according to Oregon Live.
But Marbury and Quinney thanked Facebook commenters for their support and for spreading awareness.
“To all my friends and supporters for #justiceforjacob. I am sharing with you today that Friday night the baby-sitter was arrested and is in custody,” Quinney wrote on Facebook on June 6.
“At this point our case is in the hands of the justice system. Thank you all for your support and continued support as this case moves forward. We will keep fighting for Oregon's law to be changed!!"
A Change.org petition that was started seeking to amend the law has gathered more than 56,000 signatures.
The Washington County district attorney’s office said they would not comment on specific details about the case, but in a statement on its website said, “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 statement said.