A former Baylor University fraternity president accused of raping another student was given a controversially lenient sentence on Monday in McClennan County, when a judge accepted a deal prosecutors offered the man in October, allowing him to plead no contest to a third-degree felony charge of unlawful restraint and receive deferred probation.
Twenty-three-year-old Jacob Walter Anderson, who was president of Baylor’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity until he was accused of date-raping a woman at a party in 2016, will not go to jail or have to register as a sex offender. Instead, the four counts of sexual assault for which Anderson was indicted in May have been dismissed, and if he completes his three-year probation and attends counseling, there will be no final judgment of guilt, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
“I’ve been at this a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this,” the victim’s attorney, Vic Feazell, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It stinks to high hell.”
When Strother announced his approval of the plea agreement in the courtroom on Monday, the victim began to cry loudly, according to the Tribune-Herald. She had urged the judge to reject the plea offer and set a trial date instead. After the ruling, the woman described her rape in detail in her victim impact statement.
When she was a 19-year old sophomore at Baylor, she was at a party when someone handed her punch and told her to drink it, the Tribune-Herald reported the woman told police. She became disoriented, and she says Anderson took her to a secluded part of the property behind a tent to get some air, where she says he sexually assaulted her and repeatedly choked her. “When I was completely unconscious, he dumped me face down in the dirt and left me there to die,” the woman said in court Monday. “He had taken what he wanted, had proven his power over my body. He then walked home and went to bed without a second thought to the ravaged, half-dead woman he had left behind.” She added, “The McLennan County justice system is severely broken.”
The victim said earlier that prosecutor Hilary LaBorde sent her an email in October after the victim first learned of the plea deal offer by reading about it in the Tribune-Herald. According to the Tribune-Herald, the victim said LaBorde wrote in her email that she didn’t think they would win the case if it went to trial, explaining that Anderson was an “innocent-looking young defendant” and a first-time rapist. “Our jurors aren’t ready to blame rapists and not victims,” LaBorde wrote, according to the victim.
In a statement released Monday by the district attorney’s office, LaBorde said the plea deal’s approval was the best outcome for the case. “Conflicting evidence and statements exist in this case making the original allegation difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said in the statement, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “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… Given the claims made publicly, I understand why people are upset. However, all of the facts must be considered and there are many facts that the public does not have. In approving this agreement, Judge Strother had access to all the statements that have ever been made by all people involved and agreed that the plea agreement offered was appropriate in this case.” Neither LaBorde nor McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna attended Monday’s hearing, according to the Tribune-Herald.
“If I had the courage to come back to Waco and face my rapist and testify, you could at least have had enough respect for me to show up today,” the woman said later in her victim impact statement. “You both will have to live with this decision to let a rapist run free in society without any warning to future victims. I wonder if you will have nightmares every night watching Jacob rape me over and over again? Jacob Walter Anderson, it must be horrible to be you. To know what you did to me. To know you are a rapist. To know that you almost killed me. To know that you ruined my life, stole my virginity, and stole many other things from me.” She said she has struggled with suicidal thoughts and panic attacks since she was raped, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Anderson, meanwhile, was kicked out of Baylor after the charges against him became public in May 2016, and his fraternity chapter was suspended. According to the Tribune-Herald, he will soon graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas and works for a real estate development company in Dallas. As part of the plea deal, he will pay a $400 fine.