Former frat president accused of rape pleads guilty to lesser charge in deal without jail time
Jacob Walter Anderson. Photo courtesy of the Waco Police Department.
A woman who claimed a former fraternity president at Baylor University “violently and repeatedly” raped her told a Texas court on Monday that she was devastated by the decision to allow him to escape jail time.
The woman gave her victim impact statement during a court hearing in which the accused man, Jacob Walter Anderson, pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of felony restraint, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports. Judge Ralph Strother of Waco accepted the plea deal on Monday.
The plea deal calls for no time behind bars and no registration as a sex offender. Instead, Anderson will serve three years of deferred adjudication probation, pay a $400 fine, and undergo counseling. At this article’s publication time, more than 96,000 people had signed an online petition opposing the deal.
The woman had said Anderson led her outside during a fraternity party in 2016 after she felt woozy from drinking a cup of punch. The woman, who was a Baylor sophomore at the time, said Anderson sexually assaulted her behind a tent.
KCENTV.com posted a copy of the woman’s victim impact statement. The woman said Anderson repeatedly raped her vaginally and orally, causing her to choke and eventually black out. “When I was completely unconscious, he dumped me face down in the dirt and left me there to die,” the statement said. “He had taken what he wanted, had proven his power over my body.”
According to an earlier statement by the woman and her family, the McLennan County prosecutor in the case, Hilary LaBorde, had told them her only successes when trying college-age rape defendants are in cases in which there are multiple victims. In one recent case, LaBorde reportedly said, jurors engaged in a lot of victim blaming. The Waco Tribune-Herald has coverage here.
LaBorde said in a statement after the judge accepted the deal that it “was the best outcome given the facts of this case. Conflicting evidence and statements exist in this case making the original allegation difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. As a prosecutor, my goal is no more victims. I believe that is best accomplished when there is a consequence rather than an acquittal. This offender is now on felony probation and will receive sex offender treatment, a result which was not guaranteed, nor likely, had we gone to trial.”
Anderson was expelled from Baylor after the incident, and the Baylor chapter of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, was suspended. He is due to graduate soon from the University of Texas at Dallas.
University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell, a former federal prosecutor and judge, criticized the deal in an email sent to the Washington Post. “The prosecutor’s own evaluation of the case make clear that she is relying on an inappropriate consideration—specifically a prospective juror’s likely belief in ‘rape myths’—in striking this remarkable deal,” he said.