Atlantic City’s First Couple Faces Charges for Alleged Child Endangerment

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Atlantic City’s esteemed first couple, Mayor Marty Small Sr. and his wife, Dr. La’Quetta Small, reach an unforeseen juncture in their storied careers. The prominent pair, who lead in the roles of the city’s mayor and superintendent of the city’s public schools respectively, are expected to appear before a judge in the weeks to come. They face grave allegations of child endangerment among other charges, all contained in an affidavit from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.

Earlier this month, a startling accusation took root when the couple’s teenage daughter, Jada Smalls, bravely approached school faculty revealing she was the victim of both mental and physical abuse within the confines of her own home. The alleged assailants were none other than the Smalls themselves.

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While the afflictions alleged by the adolescent are their parents’ to bear, the web of accountability also snared Constance Days-Chapman, Principal of Atlantic City High School. The administrator was charged with official misconduct, obstruction of justice, hindering apprehension, and a failure to promptly report child abuse. The saga continues to unfold in court at a preliminary hearing on May 15.

Late March witnessed law enforcement descending upon the mayor’s residence to execute a search warrant. The Mayor, in his remarks, tied the search to a “family issue,” while his daughter Jada, in an emotionally fraught moment, found herself at her father’s side during a press conference. Here, Mayor Small employed evasive language to downplay the charges, casting them as a private family affair rather than acknowledging their potential criminal nature.

As the head of the local government, Small is the face of leadership in a city that shelters New Jersey’s nine casinos. But the city’s power of critical decision-making was wrested away by the state during a 2016 takeover.

The allegations that buttress the charges against both Small and his wife are chilling — second-degree child endangerment. The mayor faces additional charges of making third-degree terroristic threats, third-degree aggravated assault, and simple assault. His wife is contending with three counts of simple assault.

Inside the affidavit, there are several claims of the Smalls’ repeated emotional and physical abuse of their teenage daughter. Evidence that supports these allegations was obtained by law enforcement from the teen’s boyfriend, who captured both video and audio of heated confrontations between Jada and her parents.

An incendiary mix of conflict over school performance and the young girl’s relationship with her boyfriend seems to be at the eye of the storm. One particularly unsettling recording from January reveals the girl expressing fear, to which the mayor allegedly responds with a threat of physical violence.

Further ghastly details in the affidavit suggest the teen was knocked unconscious by her father, purportedly using a broomstick as a weapon. They transported the unconscious teenager to a nearby hospital where she reportedly attempted to guard her family by attributing the damage to playful antics with her brother. However, the evidence does not lie; the hospital report corroborates the presence of a head injury suggestive of loss of consciousness.

As public anger grows, Mayor Small has resisted the tide of demands for his resignation. The mayor’s attorney, Ed Jacobs, maintains the Smalls constitute a close, loving, and intact family. He asserts that they continue to strongly deny the allegations and remain confident that they will be exonerated. As the case proceeds, the Smalls remain at liberty; due to the nature of their charges, no bail has been set. This looming cloud of allegations only promises to cast a deeper shadow on their future and, indeed, the future of Atlantic City.