Thanks to the #MeToo movement, there has been an increase in women coming out about their experiences with sexual assault. Although the movement has helped society progress into a more accepting, helpful environment, the justice system has not caught up.
In 2016, a 19-year-old female student attending Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, was choked and sexually assaulted by Jacob Anderson, president of Phi Delta Theta, at a party hosted by the fraternity. He accepted a plea deal in October, and it then became public. People were outraged at the lack of punishment for Anderson in his plea. A petition was soon created for the judge to deny the plea, and it received signatures from over 85,000 people around the world. The US Criminal Justice System failed this 19-year-old female, and sadly this is horrible handling of sexual assault is not shocking in today's day.
On December 10, 2018, this case was brought to national attention. On this day, the survivor made a statement to the judge on the case after he accepted Anderson's plea deal.
Instead of reading through many articles, I have compiled 13 major facts about this case because it needs to be heard.
1. Anderson left her on the ground, unconscious.
NPR: "He led her to a secluded area on the grounds so she could get some air, and then repeatedly raped her, leaving her unconscious, alone and 'lying face down in her own vomit.'"
How does a person lack so much compassion for another person that he would force himself on her and leave her in a near-fatal state?
2. She was most likely drugged at the party.
NPR: "After sipping some punch, 'she became disoriented and felt very confused,' according to the affidavit."
Honestly, it sucks that there are so many rules for women when they drink at parties. Before I even started college, I was flooded with advice from friends and family: pour your own drinks, don't leave your drink anywhere, don't drink out of punch bowls, keep an eye on your friends, etc. Very few males, if any, have had to be educated on how to avoid being sexually assaulted, or even on how not to sexually assault.
3. The 19-year-old female was a virgin.
"He stole my body, virginity, and power over my body." -A line from the 19-year-old's statement.
People should have sex for the first time when they want to. They have full rights to their body, and that is something that should never be taken away. This woman's rights to her own body were ripped away from her, stomped on, and thrown away with no remorse.
4. The prosecutors did not attend her hearing.
"If I had the courage to come back to Waco and face my rapist and testify you could at least have had enough respect for me to show up today." She's damn right. Not only did the justice system fail to support her, but her own prosecutors failed to support her. Then the prosecutors made a deal that ripped away from her chance at justice. Unbelievable. The court system needs to do better. Survivors deserve support and justice.
Prosecutor Hilary LaBorde emailed the survivor that the case would not go to trial because "Our jurors aren't ready to blame rapists when there isn't concrete proof of more than one victim." 1) I'm pretty sure that should be up to the jurors, not one prosecutor. 2) Since when does a rape case need more than one victim? Ridiculous.
(This statement can be heard in the video posted at the end of this article.)
6. He took a plea deal.
One of the prosecutors on the case defended the plea deal. She claimed that the statements and evidence made the "original allegations difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt," which could have resulted in Mr. Anderson being acquitted if the case went to trial. She wanted to make sure that he received a consequence. The problem is that the consequences he did receive were insurmountable to the suffering he caused the victim. Such consequences were barely a step up from being acquitted in the first place. These so-called consequences are listed below.
7. In the deal, four counts of sexual assault were dismissed.
In exchange for the dismissal of four counts of sexual assault, Anderson pleaded no contest to unlawful restraint. By pleading no contest instead of pleading guilty, he did not even have to admit to unlawful restraint, a much lower charge than sexual assault. If he were to have been found guilty on counts of sexual assault, he would've served two to 20 years in prison.
8. Anderson will avoid jail time.
Excuse me? A man can sexually assault a virgin, leave her to die, and receive no jail time whatsoever? The lack of jail time for this crime is degrading to survivors and every other woman in this country. Women are often seen as objects. Some men think that they can take women whenever they want them, and then easily dispose of the women when they are done without consequence. It seems to me that the court is telling them that they are right.
9. He will not be registered as a sex offender.
Women should know what he did. How are we supposed to protect ourselves from rapists if we don't know who they are? My mom checks every guy she goes on a date with on the county court's online database. Since many rapists are convicted or even registered, she could end up on a date with a man who sees her as someone to take advantage of. Also, she would have no way of knowing his true self before meeting with him. The criminal justice system is supposed to protect women. Instead, it's hurting them.
10. He will pay a $400 fine and serve three years of probation.
$400. Probation. No jail time.
Yeah, that doesn't sound like justice to me either. A parking ticket can cost more than that fine.
11. If he completes his probation, his plea won't show up on his record.
No jail time, not on the sex offender registry, probation, a small fine, AND no record? The handling of this case is a disgrace.
12. The judge on this case was Ralph Strother.
Judge Strother could have rejected the plea deal because it was quite frankly absurd, but he accepted it. Him accepting the plea deal was not a surprise because he has been lenient in sexual assault cases against other male students from Baylor University.
I had to take this statement directly from the NYT article because paraphrasing it would not do it justice:
"Judge Strother has been accused of approving lenient sentences for men in two other recent sexual assault cases. One was a probation sentence last year for a man who pleaded guilty to a 2013 sexual assault of a Baylor student. The other was a felony probation sentence imposed this year for the sexual assault of a former Baylor student in 2014 that includes 30 days of jail time to be served on weekends."
13. She wrote a response to the Judge after he accepted the plea deal.
**Trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault.
She is on medication, getting therapy, having nightmares, and frequently has anxiety. He is ultimately a free man. She will heal, but she will never be truly free from what he did to her.
Her full statement can be read here.
If you're not pissed about this case and the lack of protection of women –– like your sisters, your mother, your significant other, your daughters –– then you're not paying attention.
The following video summarizes the case well: