Jacob Anderson, the former president of Baylor University’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity accused of raping a woman at an off-campus party in 2015, will not serve any prison time. Nor will he be required to register as a sex offender. Instead, he will pay a $400 fine and receive counseling, the Waco Tribune reports, as part of a plea deal offered by the district attorney’s office. If the 24-year-old completes three years on deferred probation, he won’t even have a criminal record.
Through tears, the victim said in court that Judge Ralph Strother has “let my rapist go free.”
In March 2016, an officer told the Waco-Tribune that, according to the arrest affidavit, the woman, then a sophomore at the university, was given a drink at an off-campus frat party and “became very disoriented, was taken outside by our suspect, who is Jacob Walter Anderson, and she said when they got outside, Anderson forcibly sexually assaulted her.”
The report continued:
Anderson took the woman “to a secluded part of the grounds behind a tent in order to get some air, however once away from everyone else attending the party” he sexually assaulted the woman. Court documents stated that the victim lost consciousness, but awoke alone a short time later in the same outside area before returning to the house and finding a friend, who took her immediately to the hospital.
In October, the district attorney’s office offered Anderson, who was originally indicted on four charges of sexual assault, a plea deal for a lesser charge of unlawful restraint, which is a third-degree felony. Anderson pled no contest.
According to KWTX, the victim’s family learned of the plea deal via an email from Hillary Laborde, the assistant district attorney. “I’ve accepted an offer on Jacob Anderson,” she wrote. “It’s for probation on the charge of felony unlawful restraint, not sexual assault – therefore, he will not have to register as a sex offender. I realize this is not the outcome we had hoped for or that I had originally offered, but I tried a very similar case to this one last month, and lost.”
“In light of the similarities between the cases, it’s my opinion it would be worse to try Anderson and lose and have the entire matter wiped from his criminal history than to accept this plea offer,” she explained.
Former McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell, a lawyer who represents the victim’s family, told KWTX: “As a former DA, I never, ever have seen such a sweetheart deal for a defendant like this.”
“It pays to be rich and white in McLennan County when you’re charged with a crime,” he said.
“By agreeing to this plea, Hillary Laborde and the DA’s office have allowed that rape is no longer a crime in Texas,” the victim’s family wrote in a statement responding to the deal. “This victim was told there were enormous amounts of evidence and a conviction was almost sure. And now two and half years later after living through hell, having the trial delayed a week before it was to occur and then never rescheduled, the DA has decided not to bother even trying to get justice.”