Image: Vanessa Jackson
Avi Steinhardt  /  AP file
Prosecutors are asking that Vanessa Jackson, in court in July 2004, be sentenced to seven years in prison.
updated 11/10/2005 6:00:57 PM ET 2005-11-10T23:00:57

A woman accused of severely starving her four adopted sons pleaded guilty Thursday to child endangerment, admitting she did not provide the children with proper food or medical care.

Prosecutors who signed off on the plea bargain are asking that Vanessa Jackson get seven years in prison at sentencing Feb. 10.

Jackson, 50, and her husband, Raymond, were thrust into the national spotlight in 2003 after their adopted son Bruce was found scavenging for food in a neighbor’s trash. He was 19, but from his size — 45 pounds — police figured him for about 7.

Three younger boys in the home were small as well.

The parents and family friends said the boys were so thin because they suffered from eating disorders. But authorities pointed to the boys’ rapid weight gain after they were taken from the Jacksons’ home.

Jackson and her husband were each charged with 28 counts of aggravated assault and child endangerment, charges that carry a combined sentence of hundreds of years in prison. Raymond Jackson died of a stroke last year.

The three girls living in the home — two adopted and one a foster child the couple had been seeking to adopt — were of normal size.

Because there was a foster child in the home, state child welfare workers regularly visited, but none reported anything unusual about the four boys. In September, the state agreed to pay the boys $12.5 million in damages.

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