Maj. John E. Jackson, 37, and Carolyn Jackson, 35, were arrested Tuesday at their home in Mount Holly and charged with brutalizing their three biological children and two foster children between August 2005 and April 2010, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman said.
The couple are accused of breaking the children's bones, force feeding them hot chili pepper flakes and starving them, as well as depriving them of drinking water, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect," Fishman said.
The couple were charged with three counts of assault, 13 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of conspiracy to endanger, he said. The indictment followed an investigation by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the newspaper reported.
A website sympathetic to the couple -- ReuniteJackson7.com -- alleges the two are victims of "prejudice against their religion."
"Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents, had their five children taken away in April 2010 by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services -- and despite the collapse of the evidence against the Jacksons, DYFS hasn't returned the children to their parents," the website alleges.
"During the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says."