When Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project airs on Oxygen on April 5 at 7pm, viewers will hear the harrowing story of Dawn Jackson, a mother-of-seven who has been in prison for 21 years. The 48-year-old is serving time in New Jersey for stabbing her step-grandfather Robert McBride 28 times. Dawn, who was 27 at the time, pled guilty on the advice of her public defender and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in August 1999. But, in the two-hour documentary special, Kim and her legal mentors Jessica Jackson and Erin Haney argue that the justice system let her down and that there were mitigating circumstances in her case that should have been heard. The biggest one being Dawn’s allegation that McBride molested her throughout her childhood.
In an emotional letter that she wrote to Kim, the mom revealed that she was sexually abused and raped by multiple people from the age of five onwards. “Her letter made me angry at the people that have betrayed her like this,” the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star says in the doc. “It made me think of my own kids and what I would do if that happened to them and I knew that I wanted to help her.”
Kim, Jessica and Erin are working towards presenting evidence to the state of New Jersey to have her sentence commuted. Here’s what you need to know about Dawn:
1. Dawn alleges that – despite being sexually abused by multiple men – she never got the help that she needed. “During my early childhood I was sexually abused, intimidated and coerced by certain male family members,” she wrote in a letter to Kim. “She was raped at the age of five so badly that she had to go to the hospital and had to use a bag to go to the bathroom,” Jessica Jackson tells HollywoodLife. “That in and of itself is going to do something to somebody.”
2. When she pled guilty to murder she told the judge that she stole from her victim and used the money to buy drugs. “She told Judge Barnett Hoffman of Superior Court that she bought cocaine with the money she stole from [him]…” The New York Times reported in August 1999.
3. Her children feature in Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project. Dawn’s daughter Loreale Wilson alleges that McBride would give her mother money to buy drugs. “This is the same man that touched my mom and hurt her and traumatized her,” she says.
4. Dawn alleges that McBride was trying to “forcefully have sex” with her on the day of the attack. “She was dealing with a lot of PTSD and the day she went to his house and he pulled on her, something inside of her said, ‘No,’ she was not going to be victimized again,” Jessica says.
5. Kim argues that Dawn was “improperly sentenced.” “None of the circumstances that led her to this place were ever presented in court,” she says in the documentary. “She definitely should have gone to jail and spent time but she should have had a fair trial with her circumstances presented.”