The mother of Johnstown’s “Baby Jax,” who had been accused of injecting an unknown substance into the boy’s feeding tube last year, admitted in an Ohio courtroom Tuesday to endangering the boy, prosecutors there said.
Jessica Valik entered her guilty plea in a Cincinnati court room Tuesday morning to one count of misdemeanor child endangerment. She faces a maximum of six months in jail at her sentencing later this month.
She admitted to endangering the boy in October during his hospitalization at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Her final sentence is to be determined by the judge, an Ohio prosecutor spokesman said. However, by the time of her sentencing she’ll already have been in custody for nearly the maximum term. She has remained jailed in Ohio on $250,000 bond since her October arrest.
Valik has previously been ordered to have no contact with him while the case remained pending.
The boy remains at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the prosecutor’s spokesman said. Custody of the boy is expected to go to his grandfather, he said.
The boy’s grandfather declined to comment Tuesday when contacted through Facebook. Attorneys for Valik did not return calls for comment.
Jackson “Baby Jax” Baldwin’s struggle with a rare skin condition drew numerous media reports in recent years and even more after her October arrest.
Ohio prosecutors indicted her in October on felony counts of child endangering and felonious assault. She faced up to eight years in prison had she been convicted of those counts.
Valik was accused then of injecting an unknown substance into her son’s feeding tube Oct. 1 while he was hospitalized at the Ohio facility. Jackson had been receiving treatment there for epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, a rare genetic disease that causes extremely fragile skin.
Hospital workers became suspicious of Valik after Jackson got sick with diarrhea and their extensive treatment found no medical explanation, prosecutors said.
Children with EB are extremely susceptible to infection and Valik’s actions heightened the possibility of infection, prosecutors said. The multiple diaper changes due to the diarrhea also caused severe pain to Jackson, whose skin is hypersensitive to any movement or contact.
Jackson is unable to eat without the help of his feeding tube and cannot walk or speak, prosecutors said.
Valik, formerly of Johnstown, is now listed as living in Syracuse. Jackson was born at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville on Aug. 20, 2011.
The Daily Gazette has reported on Jackson throughout his struggles and media outlets across the Capital Region have profiled him often.
Throughout the boy’s life, his family has had to keep Jackson almost constantly wrapped in bandages from the neck down, wrapping each finger and toe individually to keep them from blistering and fusing together.
Jackson has also undergone an experimental bone marrow transplant that seemed to promise some relief. Family members later said his condition had worsened and another transplant was being considered.
Valik, a single mother, fought hard to get Medicaid coverage for the roughly $1.5 million bone marrow procedure in 2012, eventually getting funding when state lawmakers got involved.
About 200 children are born with EB in the United States every year, according to the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America. The disease takes various forms, but all involve the body’s inability to produce a protein that helps skin cells bind together, resulting in constant blistering, tearing and bleeding.
There is no known cure or treatment beyond daily care, bandaging and pain medication.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Schenectady County