Two months after a former Baylor University fraternity president was indicted on charges he sexually assaulted another student in 2016, a prosecutor offered him probation without informing the alleged victim or her family until the plea offer was turned down.
An attorney for the woman and her parents filed a notice in court this week objecting to a subsequent plea bargain offered to Jacob Walter Anderson that includes deferred probation on a reduced charge and no sex offender registration. They are urging 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother to reject the plea agreement and send the case to trial.
Anderson had been set to plead no contest Sept. 10 to a reduced charge of unlawful restraint in exchange for prosecutor Hilary LaBorde’s promise to drop four sexual assault counts and to recommend deferred probation and counseling. Anderson would not be required to register as a sex offender under the terms of the plea agreement.
His plea date was postponed this week because of high-profile trials that were set that day and to accommodate the victim’s family, who live in California and who want to be in court. A new plea date has not been rescheduled.
Vic Feazell, an attorney for the woman and her parents, said this week that the family learned of the proposed plea agreement between LaBorde and Anderson by reading an Aug. 23 story in the Tribune-Herald.
“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.”
When told court documents show LaBorde offered Anderson 10 years probation and a $5,000 fine in exchange for his plea to sexual assault in July 2016, Feazell said, “Oh, my. We were lied to from the get-go.”
In an email Feazell provided to the Tribune-Herald, Feazell wrote to District Attorney Abel Reyna in August 2016 that the family was unhappy about finding out an offer of probation had been made without consulting them, but said they were relieved Anderson turned it down.
“I explained that there were many factors that could have led to the offer and I had glowing things to say about Hilary. I know she’s tough,” Feazell wrote to Reyna.
The victim’s mother said in a statement provided by Feazell that they are upset LaBorde did not inform them before the initial offer in 2016 or the subsequent offer this year.
“She never told us about that (first) one, and she had not even spoken to the witnesses or even read the Title IX report yet,” the woman’s mother said. “She never bothered to put one ounce of effort into this case. She led (her daughter) on and put her through this knowing she was going to betray her the whole time.”
LaBorde said Friday that she cannot comment on pending matters.
“I’m disappointed and I hope the judge refuses to accept this atrocious plea bargain,” Feazell said.
Anderson, 23, of Garland, former president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter at Baylor, was expelled after a university investigation.
Included as exhibits with the filing earlier this week are emails between Feazell and the woman and her parents. 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 that LaBorde seems more concerned about Anderson getting 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.”
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.