Names to know in the Baylor sexual assault scandal
More than 18,000 people have signed an online petition calling for The University of Texas at Dallas to remove Jacob W. Anderson, a former Baylor student who received no jail time as part of a controversial plea deal in a rape case on Monday.
“The students at UT Dallas have a right to protection from predators like Anderson,” the petition states. “He submitted a plea of no contest and was sentenced to deferred probation, and will not be made to register as a sex offender. That being the case, the school has a responsibility to remove him from this new potential hunting ground. #BaylorRapistJacobAnderson.”
More than 18,000 people signed the petition by Wednesday afternoon. The list was growing throughout the day. It wasn’t the only online petition circulating related to the high-profile sexual assault case. A petition on the Care2 Petitions website objecting to the plea was signed by more than 115,000 people.
On Monday, a judge in Waco accepted a controversial plea deal for the former Baylor University fraternity president accused of sexual assault, granting Anderson no jail time, according to a representative for State District Judge Ralph Strother.
As part of the deal, Anderson agreed to plea to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint and will not have to register as a sex offender.
The 23-year-old from Garland was accused of raping a 19-year-old student, referred to as Donna Doe in court documents, at a Phi Delta Theta party in 2016. He was arrested, expelled from the university and, in June 2018, indicted on four counts of sexual assault.
The case was investigated as Baylor University grappled with a scandal for its handling of reports to sexual assaults.
Anderson is listed in the UT Dallas directory as a senior studying finance in the School of Management. News reports indicate that he will graduate soon.
Anderson declined to comment for this story via email and referred questions to his attorney, Mark Daniels of Fort Worth. Daniels’ office said their response to the case was given to the Waco Tribune-Herald on Tuesday.
“We have the utmost respect for Judge Strother for ascertaining the true and accurate complexion of these accusations and following the state’s carefully prepared recommendation,” Daniel told the Tribune-Herald.
The case, which has drawn national attention, prompted concerns from advocates for victims’ rights.
Chris Kaiser, general counsel at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault in Austin, told the Star-Telegram in a statement: “We are, of course, disturbed by this outrageously lenient sentence for a violent rape. But perhaps more disturbing is the justification offered for the plea deal: that prosecutors believe the people of McLennan County are unwilling to convict sexual offenders. This sends a dangerous message to the public, including survivors, that justice is unavailable in McLennan County. It is imperative that officials unequivocally disavow this message and work immediately to foster confidence in their ability to prosecute sexual assault.”
The petition related to UT Dallas was posted on moveon.org and carries the title: “Remove Jacob Anderson from UT Dallas — zero tolerance for rapists.” It also states that Anderson was removed from the helm of his fraternity and as a student from Baylor University after allegations of sexual assault made news.
The author of the petition, Kelsey Casto, urged people to sign on social media.
UT Dallas posted a statement on social media.
“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are of the utmost importance to the University,” the statement said. “While federal laws limit what we can address publicly, we are aware of the online petition and the community’s concern. The University administration is currently reviewing the situation.”
The issue received more than 100 comments on the UT Dallas Facebook page. That’s where John Fell, who is working on a master’s degree in business analytics at UT Dallas, found a link to the petition and signed it.
“I’m very disappointed,” Fell said. “I think very highly of UT Dallas. They really pride themselves as an academic institution.”
Fell said he is hoping the university president addresses the issue, which he said could reflect poorly on the school.
“I was very surprised,” Fell said of learning that Anderson was a fellow UT Dallas student. “I thought it kind of conflicted with some of the values I thought they did have. ... I think it is going to negatively impact them in terms of future prospective students.”
UT Dallas is located in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. UT Dallas has an enrollment of 28,755 and is one of several campuses in The University of Texas System.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.