Ex-Baylor frat president takes plea deal on rape charges
Even though Jacob Walter Anderson was indicted on four counts of sexual assault, the ex-fraternity president won’t spend a single day in prison.
Instead, a plea agreement allowed the former Baylor University student to plead no contest to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint.
That means if the 24-year-old successfully completes three years of deferred probation and pays a $400 fine, his criminal record will be wiped clean of the charge, CNN affiliate KWKT said.
Anderson will have to complete alcohol, drug and psychological treatment plans. But he won’t have to register as a sex offender in Texas.
The plea agreement between Anderson’s defense team and the district attorney’s office in McLennan County infuriated the victim.
“I have been through hell and back and my life has been forever turned upside down,” the victim wrote in a letter to her attorney.
“This guy violently raped me multiple times, choked me, and when I blacked out, he dumped me face down on the ground and left me to die. When I woke up aspirating up my own vomit, my friends immediately took me to the hospital.”
The victim’s attorney, Vic Feazell, was also livid.
“In my 40 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen a sweetheart deal like this,” Feazell said.
Feazell, a former McLennan County district attorney, said he can’t understand why a prosecutor would allow such a shocking plea deal.
But Assistant District Attorney Hilary LaBorde said she had good reason to recommend probation instead of a jury trial.
Horror at a frat party
What started as a fraternity party in February 2016 quickly devolved into a nightmare, the victim said.
The woman said she had put down her drink for a few minutes to dance. After picking up her drink again and taking a few sips, “I felt immediately intoxicated, and more so than that, sedated,” she said in a statement to police.
“Everything was out of focus and I felt no control over my body. Through this, I noticed Jacob (Anderson) out of the corner of my eye throughout the whole party, following me, behind me, but didn’t pay attention because I was aware he had a girlfriend,” the victim said.
But Anderson was persistent, she said, and told her to follow him outside. After that, “Jacob pulled down his pants and shoved his penis in my mouth and down my throat, keeping it there even when I gagged multiple times.”
In her victim impact statement, the woman said Anderson “repeatedly raped me.”
“When he forcefully picked me up and shoved me into a wall to rape me vaginally from behind he calmly and coldly said, ‘It’s fine. You’re fine.’ When I tried to pull up my pants or sit he shoved me to the ground and shoved his penis back down my throat and continued to choke me,” the woman said.
After being choked, the woman said she blacked out. She later woke up on the ground, face-down in her own vomit.
CNN reached out to Anderson’s defense team on Tuesday, but has not received any response.
When Anderson walked out of the courtroom on Monday, spared from any prison time, he declined to comment to the media.
Why the plea deal happened
LaBorde, the assistant district attorney, said she worried a jury wouldn’t convict Anderson because the prosecutor had recently lost a similar case.
In a letter to the victim and her attorney, LaBorde apologized for not letting them know that a plea deal was in the works before it was reported in the local newspaper. But she said she had good reasons for the plea bargain.
“I’ve accepted an offer on Jacob Anderson. 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,” LaBorde wrote.
“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 that case, LaBorde wrote, she thought the jury “was looking for any excuse not to find an innocent looking young defendant guilty. They engaged in a lot of victim blaming — and the behavior of that victim and [this victim’s] is very similar. 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.”
In the victim’s letter to her attorney, she said the prosecutor’s explanation was terrible.
“The case she lost is nothing like my case,” the woman said. “It sounds like she is agreeing with the [previous case’s] jurors that he’s too good looking to be convicted, or he only raped one girl, so we will let him go.”
CNN reached out to the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, but was told the person handling all media inquiries, Rebecca Akins, was out sick. The DA’s office said no one else could help answer media questions.
‘You … let a rapist run free’
After Judge Ralph Strother agreed to accept the plea deal on Monday, the victim lambasted the court.
“I am devastated by your decision to let my rapist Jacob Walter Anderson go free without any punishment,” the woman said.
“Jacob Anderson and all rapists who get away with their crimes will never be cured, never change. If anything they will be emboldened by their power over women and their ability to escape justice and punishment.”
She also scolded LaBorde and McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna for not showing up to court.
“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 victim said.
“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 again.”
She also had words for Anderson himself.
“Jacob Walter Anderson, it must be horrible to be you,” she said. “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.”
In the letter to her attorney, the woman said she feared what Anderson’s lack of punishment would mean for rape victims in the future.
“This is the reason rape victims hesitate to report the crime,” she wrote. “I had the courage to report the crime, go through an investigation, wait all these years to testify.”
But that chance to testify in front of a jury will never happen.
“There’s nothing more we can do at this point,” her attorney said. “The plea was accepted by the judge.”
While there is nothing more to do in the criminal case, a civil lawsuit filed in February is still pending.
Jim Dunnam, who is representing the victim in the civil case, said it will proceed with a list of defendants including the fraternity and Anderson.