Fulton County

Mom of ‘Baby Jax’ sentenced for endangering him

The mother of Johnstown’s “Baby Jax” formally received her six-month sentence Tuesday after admittin
Jessica Valik cradles her son, Jackson Baldwin, in her Johnstown apartment following a bone marrow transplant in 2013.
Jessica Valik cradles her son, Jackson Baldwin, in her Johnstown apartment following a bone marrow transplant in 2013.

The mother of Johnstown’s “Baby Jax” formally received her six-month sentence Tuesday after admitting earlier this month to endangering the boy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, prosecutors there said.

Jessica Valik had been accused of injecting an unknown substance into the boy’s feeding tube last year during his hospitalization there for treatment of a rare skin disease.

Prosecutors have since identified the substance as Benadryl, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Enquirer also quoted a social worker as speaking during the sentencing as saying Jax, whose formal name is Jackson Baldwin, “has made amazing progress.”

Jessica Valik entered her guilty plea in a Cincinnati courtroom earlier this month to one count of misdemeanor child endangerment. She faced a maximum of six months in jail.

She has remained in custody on $250,000 bond since her October arrest, meaning she appeared to have most or all of the six months already served by Tuesday.

Prosecutors said later they believed she had seven days left to serve.

The boy’s maternal grandfather either has or will be filing for custody of the boy, prosecutors said.

The judge also ordered Valik to remain off the hospital property, where the boy remains. Valik has previously been ordered to have no contact with him while the case remained pending.

The boy, Jackson “Baby Jax” Baldwin, 4, remains hospitalized in Cincinnati, but the Enquirer quoted social worker Kelly Baker as saying his skin now “looks great.”

Baker told the court Valik repeatedly was “demanding sedatives and tranquilizers” be given to Jackson.

Valik also bathed Jackson daily, which “likely put [him] through more pain,” Baker said, according to the Enquirer. Daily bathing for someone with Jackson’s condition is not recommended.

Baker told the court that the boy had open sores and blisters filled with blood the size of half dollars while Valik cared for him. Those sores have “completely resolved,” she told the court.

“He is walking the halls of Children’s. He spends the majority of days out of bed,” Baker said. He “no longer requires frequent blood transfusions due to vast improvements in his skin.”

Valik made no statement in court, prosecutors said.

Her Ohio attorney, Massimino Ionna, could not be reached for comment.

The Enquirer quoted Ionna as saying his client was trying to help her son. His ailment causes continuous itching and pain, he told the paper.

“A lot of parents in this situation, administer Benadryl to help with the symptoms,” Ionna was quoted by the Enquirer.

Jackson’s struggle with a rare skin condition has received much media attention over the past few years.

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.

Jackson had been receiving treatment in Cincinnati 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.

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.

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.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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