Several protest against plea deal offered to former BU frat president

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 19:55:36-04

A petition urging a judge to reject the plea deal offered to a former Baylor University frat president has more than 45,000 signatures, after just one week.

Former Baylor University fraternity president Jacob Anderson was indicted on four counts of sexual assault after being accused of raping a teenage student at a party in 2016.

The District Attorney's Office offered him a plea deal which would require the 23-year-old to pay a $400 fine, serve three years of deferred adjudication, which won't require him to register as a sex offender 

Friday, dozens of people gathered outside the McLennan County Courthouse, holding signs that all said different things, but all had one message.

"To show support for the survivor in the Jacob Anderson case as well as to hopefully urge Judge Ralph Strother to reject the plea deal," Event Organizer, Sierra Smith said.

The punishment offered by the DA is one demonstrators said isn't enough.

"To receive a plea deal in something like this, with four counts of sexual assault, with plenty of evidence is absolutely unacceptable," demonstrator Ainsley Hughes said. 

Smith organized the demonstration to push for the case to go to trial. 

"The survivor herself has said that she wants to go to trial in this situation and that she and her family believe that this plea agreement does not do justice to this situation and if that's the way they feel then we are going to support and fight for those things," Smith said.

Trenton Garza, who is currently a second-year law student at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law, said there are several things that could happen if the deal is rejected by the judge. 

Should Judge Strother decline to accept or modify the terms of the present plea deal, Anderson could withdraw from that deal and proceed to trial. It is a real possibility that upon such trial, that Anderson could be acquitted. Local practitioners, the attorneys representing the state and Anderson, have unique insight, experience, and familiarity with the lay of the land to weigh that risk best. 

There are judicial canons that state judges "shall not be swayed by... public clamor or fear of criticism." This is an effort to reduce susceptibility of the criminal justice system to public prejudices and bias that reach far beyond the Anderson case. At no point should we ignore those concerns even in the face of adjudicating an unconscionable crime."

Smith also drafted a letter to send to District Judge Ralph Strother to encourage him to reject the plea deal, which he has until Dec.10 to do.

"It pretty much tells him that this is an opportunity for him to show people that they matter," Smith said. 

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