Ex-Frat President Fined $400, Walks Free in Drugging and Rape Case
“What will they tell the next victim when she questions why she did not know Jacob Anderson was a sex offender?”
In a case eerily reminiscent of Brock Turner for its remarkably lenient sentencing, a judge has accepted a plea deal for a former fraternity president accused of sexual assault at Baylor University that will allow him to walk away a free man and relatively untouched by charges that he drugged and raped a woman in 2016.
Jacob Walter Anderson was indicted on four counts of sexual assault in 2016 and accused of raping a 19-year-old student, known as Donna Doe in court documents, at a Phi Delta Theta party. According to the victim, Anderson drugged and repeatedly raped her then left her to wake up alone and choking on her own vomit.
The victim claimed in a lawsuit against the fraternity that she drank a cup of punch at a fraternity party and immediately felt woozy after drinking it. Anderson then led her behind a tent where he repeatedly assaulted her and she blacked out.
In court, the victim addressed Anderson directly saying, “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.”
A Too Lenient Plea Deal or Best Possible Outcome?
However, thanks to a highly controversial plea deal for a lesser charge of “unlawful restraint” Anderson will pay a fine of $400 and avoid any jail time as well as avoid being forced to register as a sex offender.
The plea deal sparked outrage from the victim and over 91,000 people who have signed a petition opposing the plea deal since it was announced. Doe and her family claimed the prosecutor had assured them that Anderson would be convicted.
“I am devastated by your decision to let my rapist Jacob Walter Anderson go free without any punishment,” Doe said in court to Texas State District Judge Ralph Strother, according to the “Today” show.
In her victim statement, Doe had written, “What will they tell the next victim when she questions why she did not know Jacob Anderson was a sex offender? How does she think the girls in his current College classes feel knowing they could have been his next victim? I am writing this letter to hold the DA accountable to do their job and seek justice. To hold Jacob Anderson accountable for his crimes. He raped me. He almost killed me.”
The District Attorney on the case, Hilary LaBorde, claimed the plea deal was the best outcome for the case given the facts. According to Texas’ Star-Telegram, LaBorde emailed the victim’s family saying she offered the plea deal after losing a recent sexual assault case that was similar to Doe’s and she feared Anderson would not be found guilty.
“(The jury) engaged in a lot of victim blaming — and the behavior of that victim and (Doe) is very similar,” she said in the email. “It’s my opinion that our jurors aren’t ready to blame rapists and not victims when there isn’t concrete proof of more than one victim.”
“Conflicting evidence and statements exist in this case making the original allegation difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” LaBorde also said in a statement. “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.”
The victim’s attorney, Vic Feazell, told local outlet KWTX, “I never, ever have seen such a sweetheart deal for a defendant like this,” adding, “It pays to be rich and white in McLennan County when you’re charged with a crime.”
Baylor University and Sexual Assault
In recent years a number of sexual assault cases have come to light involving Baylor University, including a 2013 case where a woman alleged she was gang-raped by two Baylor football players and a 2015 case involving another Baylor football player.
The sexual assault cases sparked a federal lawsuit against Baylor University last year accusing it of using sex to recruit football players and market its program which created a sexually violent atmosphere at the expense of women at Baylor University.
The lawsuit alleged that between 2011 and 2014 there were 52 instances of rape perpetrated by at least 31 different football players — behavior allegedly enabled by the football program.
Baylor coaches allegedly arranged for women to have sex with recruits visiting the campus. In one specific example cited in the lawsuit, Assistant Coach Kendall Briles said to one Dallas area high school athlete, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at BAYLOR and they LOVE football players.”
In September of 2017, the lawsuit was settled out of court but details were not made public.
“It really all came together as a product of a lot of really frank and meaningful discussions over the past months,” John Clune, who represented the plaintiff, said in a phone interview. “We started talking with the university in a nonlitigation, nonadversarial fashion and really just having some meaningful discussions that led to us getting together and figuring out how to get it done.”
At the time, the settlement was the fourth Title IX lawsuit Baylor had settled related to sexual assault, but six more sexual lawsuits against the school remained. The school also settled three other Title IX sexual assault cases with victims who did not file lawsuits.