Ex-Baylor coach Phil Bennett talks rape scandal at school, firing of Briles
Caution: This report includes graphic descriptions of violence.
WACO — The controversial plea deal for a former Baylor University fraternity president accused of sexual assault is scheduled to go before a judge on Monday.
Jacob Walter Anderson, 23, of Garland, is 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.
On Oct. 15, Anderson was offered a deal that would result in probation and counseling but no jail time, sparking declarations of outrage and protests in the community.
Under the deal, Anderson agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of felony restraint. In exchange, the district attorney’s office agreed to dismiss the sexual assault charges and recommend three years of probation, a $400 fine and counseling for Anderson.
Anderson would also not have to register as a sex offender.
So far, 85,000 people have signed an online petition started by a Baylor student, who says she is angry that the deal offers Anderson counseling and no jail time.
On Monday, Judge Ralph Strother will decide whether or not to accept the deal at an 8:30 a.m. hearing in Waco.
“We don’t know what to expect,” Attorney Vic Feazell, a former district attorney who is serving as the spokesperson for Doe’s family, said. “All I know is what I hope. I know what I would do.”
The deal is made
Feazell said he had never seen “a sweetheart of a deal” like Anderson’s plea in his years as an attorney and district attorney.
“I’ve been at this a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Feazell said. “It stinks to high hell.”
Anderson originally faced two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each of the four sexual assault charges, according to Texas state law.
Feazell said the plea deal came as a shock to him and Doe’s family, who said in a statement they were reassured by Assistant District Attorney Hilary LaBorde that the case against Anderson was “cut and dry” and he would “definitely be convicted.”
“The plea is so hard to believe and I can’t understand where it even came from,” Donna Doe wrote in her victim impact statement.
Feazell said he, and the family, found out about the plea from a story published in The Waco Tribune.
In a prior statement, Doe and her family called the plea agreement an “absolute travesty.”
“By agreeing to this plea, Hilary LaBorde and the McLennan County DA have allowed that rape is no longer a crime in Texas,” the statement said.
In her victim impact statement, Donna Doe said the plea deal is a betrayal.
“I put my faith in the McLennan County DA office and they betrayed me. It’s like a knife in the gut,” she said. “A grand jury indicted Jacob Walter Anderson on four counts of sexual assault. The evidence has not changed since then. He still raped me and left me to die.”
Feazell said he was hoping the case would go before a different district attorney. In January, Barry Johnson will take over as the new district attorney after ousting Abelino Reyna in March.
However, Feazell does not expect the case to be prolonged. On Monday morning, he said, a decision will be made.
Doe’s allegations against Anderson
On Feb. 21, 2016, Donna Doe went to her first fraternity party as a sophomore at the Phi Delt Ranch, a house used for parties by Phi Delta Theta, according to a lawsuit she filed against the fraternity.
While at the party, someone handed Doe, who was 19, a cup of punch. After drinking the punch, she immediately started to feel woozy, the lawsuit says.
Anderson led Doe outside to a secluded area behind a tent “to get some air,” according to Anderson’s arrest affidavit with Waco police. Anderson pushed Doe to the ground and started to assault her.
“He repeatedly raped me orally and vaginally while choking me, gagging me and physically forcing my body into positions so he could continue to rape me. I had no control over my body and no way to stop him,” Doe wrote in a victim impact statement. “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.’”
Doe said that at some point, she blacked out. When she woke up, she was alone, face down in the grass and aspirating on her own vomit.
Doe said at the time of the rape she was a virgin.
She said she has spent the past two years and 10 months in doctor’s offices, therapy sessions and struggling with suicidal thoughts. Consumed with panic attacks and fear, Doe said she left Baylor.
In an email LaBorde sent the family, LaBorde says she offered the plea deal after losing a recent rape case in court. She drew similarities between Doe’s case and the other case and said she feared Anderson would be found not guilty.
“(The jury) engaged in a lot of victim blaming — and the behavior of that victim and (Doe) is very similar,” she said. “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. I have had success in trying college aged defendants, yes, but in retrospect, ONLY when they have multiple victims.”
In her statement, Doe said her case is nothing like LaBorde’s prior case and Anderson should be tried before a jury.
“It is a very sad state of affairs when the prosecutor is now just another attorney for the defense,” Doe wrote. “Who is left to stand up for me, the rape victim? Who is left to stand up for truth and justice?”