Activist mulls possibility of unseating judge as former Baylor fraternity president case gains national attention

Posted at 6:16 AM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2019-04-02 14:57:50-04

On Monday, Judge Ralph Strother accepted the plea deal for the former Baylor University fraternity president accused of rape, sentencing the 23-year-old to probation and a $400 fine.

Jacob Walter Anderson, the former president of Phi Delta Theta, will not have to register as a sex offender.

"He stole many things from me the night he raped me. I will never be the same again," the victim wrote in her impact statement. "I have to live with the fact that my rapist will go home smiling and happy and laughing at me. He stole my body, virginity and power over my body and you let him keep it for all eternity."

The controversial decision sparked outrage nationwide. Just two days after the sentencing, the McLennan County case has been reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Many are comparing the case to the notorious Stanford University case of Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence after being convicted of sexual assault sparked nationwide outrage and the recall of the judge who imposed the punishment.

Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women, told the Associated Press she expects the state's affiliate will work against Judge Strother. But, Val Pelt said it is too soon to decide whether her political action committee will try to unseat him.

"If we don't get him removed, when the next one comes along, we'll work on the next one," she told the Associated Press. "We're not going to stop until this culture changes."

Unlike California, Texas does not have recall elections for judges. District Judge Strother's term expires in 2020. 

Anderson, of Garland, was indicted on four counts of sexual assault after police said the victim was given punch at a party in 2016 that caused her to be disoriented.

The victim said Anderson took her to a private area in the backyard, raped her and then left her there unconscious.

In October 2018, Anderson accepted a plea deal for a lesser charge, eliminating the possibility of jail time for the man. Anderson pleaded no contest on the charge of unlawful restraint, a third-degree felony. He was also offered three years of deferred adjudication by the McLennan County District Attorney's Office.

"Conflicting evidence and statements exist in this case making the original allegation difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt," said Hillary LaBorde, Assistant District Attorney. "This offender is now on felony probation and will receive sex offender treatment, a result which was not guaranteed, nor likely, had we gone to trial."

The attorney for the victim's family, Vic Feazell, said the victim was shocked by the terms of the plea agreement.

“This plea offer sends a bad message to the victims. Maybe they shouldn’t report it. Maybe they shouldn’t go through two years of waiting for a trial. Two years of therapy. Maybe they should be quiet about it because nothing is going to be done,"  Feazell said

An online petition opposing the plea deal for Anderson gathered more than 45,000 signatures in just the first week. Two months later, that petition has more than 108,000 signatures.

In October, dozens of people gathered outside the McLennan County Courthouse protesting the plea deal. Demonstrators said they felt the punishment offered was not enough.

You can read the assistant district attorney and the victim's full statement here.

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