The parents of a former Baylor University student who reportedly was sexually assaulted by another student in 2016 are urging a judge to reject a plea bargain that proposes reduced charges, no prison time and no sex offender registration.
Jacob Walter Anderson, 23, of Garland, former president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter at Baylor, was expelled after an investigation. He was set to enter a plea Sept. 4 in Waco’s 19th State District court. That date was changed recently to Sept. 10 because of a judge’s conference and likely will be pushed back again because Judge Ralph Strother has a high-profile trial set to start that day.
Vic Feazell, a former McLennan County district attorney, has served as liaison between the woman and her family, who live in California, and the local DA’s office. Feazell filed a notice with the court Wednesday titled “victim’s notice of objection to plea bargain.”
The woman urges Strother to refuse the plea bargain, which the document states would drop the four counts of sexual assault, reduce the charge to unlawful restraint and require Anderson to undergo counseling. He also would not be required to register as a sex offender.
In the alternative, the motion asks Strother to postpone accepting the plea bargain until the alleged victim has an opportunity to complete a victim-impact statement for the court’s consideration.
Anderson’s attorneys, Mark Daniel, of Fort Worth, and Guy Cox, of Waco, did not return phone messages Wednesday.
“Since the inception of the case, the victim and her parents were told by the prosecutor that the case would go to trial and that it definitely would not be plea bargained down without the consultation and consent of the victim,” Feazell wrote in the notice. “They were assured it was not a question of guilty/innocence, but of punishment only.”
The Tribune-Herald reported Aug. 23 that Anderson has reached a plea agreement with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office. The story gave no details of the proposed plea bargain other than stating court records show prosecutors intend to file a superseding charging document, likely a lesser charge than sexual assault, in exchange for Anderson’s plea.
Prosecutor Hilary LaBorde, who is handling Anderson’s case, declined comment on the notice Wednesday.
The filing states the alleged victim and her family learned of the proposed plea agreement by reading the Tribune-Herald. LaBorde emailed the family the next day telling them of the plea bargain, the notice states.
“I realize this is not the outcome we had hoped for or that I had originally offered,” the notice states, reportedly quoting LaBorde.
“As justification, (LaBorde) went on to compare the victim’s case to one she had recently lost, and stated she wanted to avoid any ‘emotional damage’ to the victim herein in the event of another loss,” the notice states. “The victim herein followed the other case in the paper and states there is no comparison between the two cases and she is willing to risk ‘emotional damage’ for the opportunity of seeing justice done.”
Included as exhibits with the filing are emails between Feazell and the woman and her parents. The exhibits include the names of the woman and her parents. However, the Tribune-Herald does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent.
In an email dated Aug. 28 to Feazell, the woman describes how upset she is about the proposed plea agreement.
“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,” the woman’s email states. “When I woke up aspirating on my own vomit, my friends immediately took me to the hospital and we reported it to the Waco police, Baylor police and Title IX office.”
The woman wrote she wonders why LaBorde seems more concerned about getting him counseling than a rape conviction.
“I have been waiting two-and-a-half years for this trial,” her email states. “I have been through hell and back, and my life has been forever turned upside down. I feel like I should have the right to the trial for the four counts of sexual assault the grand jury indicted him on. … I was furious and devastated when I read the newspaper article that she was basically dropping the sexual assault charges.”
In an email dated Aug. 23 addressed to LaBorde and Feazell, the girl’s father wrote the plea offer is unacceptable and promises he will “not go away quietly.”
“Why is this rapist getting to walk away from this crime? Why is he getting selective and preferential treatment?” he asks. “Is it because he is white or does he have rich connections? A grand jury said she should go to trial. The last time you spoke with my wife you said there would be no plea bargains. I trust and expect you will pursue justice.”
The woman reported she was at a fraternity party in South Waco and someone handed her punch and told her to drink it, according to court records. Shortly thereafter, she became disoriented and Anderson took her to a secluded part of the grounds behind a tent so she could get some air. However, once they were away from the crowd, he sexually assaulted her, according to records.
Anderson was expected to enter a “no contest” plea. He and 20 members of Phi Delta Theta are named as defendants in a civil lawsuit that alleges the sexual assault and underage drinking.