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James Jackson
Former Wetumka Mayor James Jackson was arrested March 26, 2020, in Hughes County, Oklahoma. (NonDoc)

(Editor’s note: The following story about criminal charges against James Jackson describes allegations that may make readers uncomfortable. It was updated at 7:50 p.m. Friday, April 17, to include information about the arrest of Rebecca Jackson.)

Jailed since March 26 and already facing sex-crime charges in Illinois, former Wetumka Mayor James Jackson has been charged with lewd acts against minors, possession of child pornography, bestiality and other criminal counts in Hughes County, Oklahoma.

District 22 District Attorney Paul Smith, who serves Hughes, Pontotoc and Seminole counties, said a court order has sealed the affidavit against James Jackson, but Smith did distribute a press release and the charging document today. In total, James Jackson faces seven charges in Oklahoma, which are linked to relevant criminal statutes in Title 21:

  1. Conspiracy
  2. Lewd or indecent acts to child under 16 (count one)
  3. Lewd or indecent acts to child under 16 (count two)
  4. Violation of Oklahoma statute via computer
  5. Indecent exposure by proxy
  6. Aggravated possession of child pornography
  7. Crimes against nature by beastiality

James Jackson faces “not less than 25 years” in prison if convicted of the lewd and indecent act charges. The allegations forming the basis of those charges involve “looking upon, touching (and) feeling” a 9-month-old baby and taking a 2-year-old “to a secret and remote place in a lewd or lascivious manner” when Jackson was 56 years old. He turned 59 in February 2020.

Embedded below, the charging document also alleges that between March 20, 2017, and Feb. 15, 2020, James Jackson possessed “100 or more separate materials depicting child pornography,” including approximately 120 images, one video and four Microsoft Word documents.

As basis for the conspiracy charge, Jackson is said to have agreed with his wife and a young woman he referred to as his adopted daughter to lease a Tulsa storage unit to “seclude” the pornographic items.

The final charge listed alleges James Jackson had sexual interaction with a non-human animal:

By committing the detestable and abominable crime against nature by having unnatural and carnal copulation by the mouth of a dog/beast of nature and also performing a manual sex act on the dog/beast.

Jackson was arrested March 26 in a joint effort between the FBI, Hughes County Sheriff Marcia Maxwell, her deputies and Wetumka police. At the time, Jackson had been charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor in Whiteside County, Illinois, where he and his wife, Rebecca, lived previously.

Assigned a $500,000 bond, James Jackson will face his charges in Oklahoma first, according to the press release sent by Smith. The district attorney said he consulted with the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma before filing charges.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 21.

“The defendant will now face local state charges before the extradition warrant can be served and the defendant returned to Illinois to face charges there,” the release stated. “The case remains under investigation and additional charges may follow pending the outcome of the investigation.

“All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

Wife files for divorce, then arrested also

James Jackson
Former Wetumka City Councilwoman Rebecca Jackson has filed for divorce from her husband, former Wetumka Mayor James Jackson, who was arrested March 26, 2020, in Hughes County, Oklahoma. (NonDoc)

On April 10, Rebecca Jackson — who was elected to the Wetumka City Council in April 2019 along with her husband — filed for divorce. Her attorney, Irven Box, said the divorce is being sought on “grounds of incompatibility.”

Box said April 13 that he was “not at liberty” to say whether Rebecca Jackson was being questioned about the criminal charges faced by her husband, but she is named in the charging document against her husband.

But on Friday, April 17, the Hughes County Sheriff’s Department posted on Facebook that Rebecca Jackson had been arrested on four charges:

“Earlier this afternoon Sheriff Maxwell along with her deputies, members of the District 22 Violent Crimes Task Force, and the United States Marshals Service executed an arrest warrant at a residence in Wetumka, Oklahoma,” the post said. “Rebecca Marie Jackson was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Hughes County Jail on the following charges.”

Maxwell’s office said on Facebook that Rebecca Jackson was being held on a $500,000 bond awaiting arraignment.

Rebecca Jackson
Former Wetumka City Councilwoman Rebecca Jackson was arrested Friday, April 17, 2020. (Provided)

Background on James Jackson and his political career in Wetumka

When retired U.S. Army members James Jackson and Rebecca Jackson moved to Wetumka in 2017, Rebecca Jackson took a job as a pharmacist in Holdenville, the Hughes County seat about 20 minutes south of Wetumka. The couple purchased the former newspaper building in Wetumka and operated a digital archiving business there with a woman they referred to as their daughter, Autumn Jackson.

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But Autumn Jackson previously went by the name Paula Israel in Fulton, Illinois, where she briefly filed to run for mayor at age 17 near the end of 2016. She withdrew her candidacy and joined the Jacksons in Hughes County. James Jackson referred to Autumn Jackson as an emancipated adult who had been adopted as a minor, but the pair’s interactions bothered some people in Wetumka. She and Rebecca Jackson are both referenced in the Hughes County charging document.

Campaigning on a platform that included lowering utility bills and cleaning up the 1,200-person town, James Jackson, Rebecca Jackson and a man named Randy Hinkley each received more than 61 percent of the April 2019 vote to win three seats on the five-member Wetumka City Council. Two existing members resigned, two new members were added and the council voted James Jackson to be mayor of Wetumka, which has a city-manager form of government.

Wetumka mayor
Controversial Wetumka Mayor James Jackson, center, speaks with Councilwoman June Fixico before a special meeting Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Tres Savage)

Over the ensuing months, James Jackson clashed with city employees and other longtime Wetumka residents, dismissing multiple police chiefs and ultimately attempting to abolish the Wetumka Police Department and repurpose its funding to a sewage lagoon project.

After a raucous Jan. 31 city council meeting, the Jacksons and Hinkley resigned their positions to force a special election, originally scheduled for April. That election has been delayed until at least June owing to the novel coronavirus.

“I hope it gets better for [Wetumka],” said Maxwell, the Hughes County sheriff. “This has been an issue up there for quite some time. It has divided the town, and I hope everything can work out for them where we can get back on track and we can move forward.”

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Hughes County charging document against James Jackson

(Update: This story was updated at 3:25 p.m. Monday, April 13, to include a quote from Maxwell. It was updated again at 7:50 p.m. Friday, April 17, to include information about Rebecca Jackson’s arrest.)