After Sentence, The Pressure On University of Texas-Dallas (Update)

The plea deal outraged many, as is becoming a common theme. They hear the accusations and, because they believe, demand an outcome that may bear no connection with reality. Maybe the accusations aren’t true. Maybe they aren’t provable. Maybe the witness is awful or the gaps in evidence too deep to ignore. Maybe there are other reasons, which a prosecutor and judge must consider even if the unduly passionate do not, that go into the decision to offer the plea.

In the trenches, decisions get made, whether people who have never stepped foot in the well like it or not. And so the deal was cut with Jacob Anderson.

A former fraternity president at Baylor University who was accused of raping a female student in 2016 will avoid jail time and will not have to register as a sex offender, under a plea deal approved on Monday in Waco, Tex.

The agreement, which has roiled Waco and drawn howls of outrage nationally, calls for the accused man, Jacob Anderson, 23, to serve three years of probation, pay a $400 fine and attend counseling; his plea may never show up on his record.

Anderson pleaded no contest. Maybe it was good deal. Maybe it was a bad deal, but the best the prosecution could hope to get. Post-plea posturing rarely provides much guidance as to the real reasons behind a plea when it’s poorly received. Then, it’s just a matter of covering one’s butt and deflecting outrage.*

But this plea deal took a different turn than that of Brock Turner and others, as word of it spread across the interwebs.

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 this week.

“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.”

This presents a significant problem for UT, where Anderson is now a senior. They can’t throw him out because the internet is outraged and 18,000 (or million, for that matter) random people signed a petition. Sure, the unduly passionate believe, as is their wont, that the school has “a responsibility to remove him,” except it not only doesn’t, but can’t.

Putting aside the minor details, like whether he is guilty, or whether his trial would have resulted in an acquittal, despite his conviction in the Court of Twitter, colleges can’t expel students because online petitions demand so.

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.”

What is meant by “reviewing the situation” is unclear. Maybe UT Dallas is biding its time until the mob turns its attention to the next outrage squirrel. Maybe it’s considering hiring Pinkertons to follow Anderson around. Maybe it’s considering unlawfully expelling him and taking whatever hit his lawsuit will bring.

But this turn of attention to the new college creates another issue. No college is going to take a transfer student with a transcript marked “sex offender,” but students facing prosecution or Title IX complaint were well-advised to transfer immediately, before proceedings concluded, so that there might still be a chance at completing their education.

Given the petition, the pressure on UT Dallas to do something, even when there is nothing they can lawfully do, the terrible press they’re getting, this is very likely to cause colleges to reassess how they deal with transfer applications, perhaps to include a question as to whether there are any complaints pending against a student, and reject them not for what they did, but merely for the fact of an accusation pending.

Whether this plea deal given, and taken by, Anderson was good or bad isn’t a matter to be argued. Sure, the woman who accused him of rape tells a horrifying story, but it’s untested and believing it merely because that’s what she says may be good enough for the mob, but not for the courts. But will colleges have the fortitude to turn the mob away? Will it be easier to just rid themselves of this meddlesome student and take the hit? Will colleges going forward eliminate any risk by refusing students based on accusations alone?

And just to add one more problem to the mix, if Anderson remains at UT, will some other student decide the rapist shouldn’t get away with it and decide to engage in a bit of antifa vigilante justice? If it’s okay to punch a Nazi, why not a rapist?

Update: UT Dallas has made its decision.

Without naming Anderson, UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson said a student admitted two years ago is no longer allowed on campus or at the school after the university was alerted to the student’s “legal history,” according to a statement posted Wednesday to Twitter.

“There is nothing more important at UT Dallas than the safety and security of our students,” Benson said. “Two years ago we admitted a student without knowing their legal history. Based on recent court action and other information over the last several days, that student will not participate in UTD commencement activities, will not attend UT Dallas graduate school and will not be present on campus as a student or as a guest.”

He can sue. He will win. He will not get his life back.

*The prosecutor in the case, Hilary LaBorde, gave a statement afterward:

“Conflicting evidence and statements exist in this case, making the original allegation difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ms. LaBorde’s statement said, according to The Star-Telegram. “As a prosecutor, my goal is no more victims. I believe that is best accomplished when there is a consequence rather than an acquittal. 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 family said that LaBorde told them “the case against Anderson was ‘cut and dry’ and he would ‘definitely be convicted.'”

25 thoughts on “After Sentence, The Pressure On University of Texas-Dallas (Update)

  1. B. McLeod

    Completely nuts. Next they will want Anderson’s landlord, his employer, his church, his credit-card issuers, and the bartender at his favorite watering-hole to punish him.

  2. tk

    I see this as a failure of the justice system, and a symptom of a system that can treat criminal charges like a game, where prosecutors make decisions the won’t negatively affect their statistics.

    The question should not be, “what’s the best we can hope for?”

    How does this plea bargain serve the interests of justice? Either he raped the girl or he didn’t. She was examined that night at the hospital: News accounts say her injuries were consistent with rape, including bruising around the throat and genital area.

    And apparently, within months, they offered the kid probation in exchange for a guilty plea. He turned it down, and two years laters, it’s a slap on the wrist. Something is wrong with this story and it’s in the public’s best interest to know what. Let a jury decide.

    If there isn’t enough evidence to bring him to trial, then say that — and let him go.

    1. SHG Post author

      Life and law would be simpler if it was just simpler. Simple, right?

      Except when the prosecution believes that he’s committed a crime, but similarly recognizes that it’s case is weak or problematic. So they try to get what they can, even if it’s significantly less than what the complaining witness wants or thinks she’s due. Law is messy and ugly, no matter how much more palatable it would be if it was as simple as simple people feel it should be.

    2. OtherJay

      I’m sorry, but the woke among us do not understand the four words after the hyphen. It should read, ‘and still punish him’.

    3. DaveL

      I’m sure there’s got to be quite a story behind how the case went from “cut and dry” to “difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt”, and no doubt it would make a splendid Downfall parody. However, it’s not necessarily true that revealing that story in all its sordid details serves the public interest, at least in any sense that outweighs things like the privacy interests of both the accuser and the accused.

      1. OtherJay

        from the link-
        “Doe said she and her family were blindsided by the plea deal by LaBorde, who Doe said assured them Anderson would be convicted.

        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.”

        But nobody needs to worry because michele is on the twatters
        “Judge Strother approved probation for three different Baylor students convicted of sex attacks. In the Anderson case, he could have been sentenced to 2-10 years for the felony restraint alone. Judge Strother is on the ballot in 2020. Texas, you know what to do. “

        1. B. McLeod

          Well, it goes without saying that, in addition to punishing the defendant, they have to Persky the judge for approving the plea agreement.

      2. SHG Post author

        Even if the prosecutor was to “reveal” all the evidence, there’s an issue as to whether people understood the significance of evidentiary failings such as conflicting statements or lack of evidence that the complaining witness was drugged, as she says she was, or would care in the face of her narrative. Unpleasant facts are occasionally ignored and replaced with her “truth.”

  3. Bryan

    I don’t get “the pressure on UT Dallas to do something, even when there is nothing they can lawfully do.” Anderson now stands convicted of a felony assault of a fellow student at another university during a university-connected event. Given the plea deal, Anderson likely made the right choice to take the plea deal if there was even a chance of a rape conviction. UT-Dallas may have caved to the mob, but I don’t see anything fundamentally unfair with expelling students convicted of assault, even if they used no-contest pleas.

    1. SHG Post author

      Some people are lawyers. Some people just make up whatever rules strike them as “fair,” with utterly no regard to anything but their feelz and whatever shit pops into their head.

      1. Bryan

        I do not see any legal provision that would prevent a public university from deciding to expel students convicted of a felony.

        1. SHG Post author

          Now try thinking like a lawyer: by what authority could they do such a think, contract and liberty interest of the student notwithstanding?

          1. Bryan

            UT-Dallas student code of conduct a provision that would permit discipline for “Any violation of a federal state, or local law either on or off campus.” At the time Anderson transferred, he had not been convicted of anything. As of December 10, he had been convicted of the felony unlawful restraint. I can see possible arguments that the violation did not occur while Anderson was a UT-Dallas student or that because of his no-contest plea, he is entitled to argue at a hearing that he did not, in fact, violate any law. Those arguments might even succeed. I still do not see how given the conviction there is “nothing they can lawfully do” to discipline him.

            1. SHG Post author

              Did he violate any law while a UT Dallas student? The conduct complained of occurred prior to his coming to UT Dallas. Since coming, he’s been an exemplary student.

        2. Skink

          Lawyers ban phrases like “I don’t know of any” rule, law or whatever from their lexicon. They do because other lawyers will know they don’t know what they’re talking about. In normal parlance, it’s like using the statement, “I don’t know why birds don’t get electrocuted on power lines” to support the position that they always get electrocuted.

          See? Birds usually survive, but your thinking don’t.

          1. Bryan

            If Anderson challenges the university’s action and he wins on the ground that the activity pre-dated his time as a student, I will come back to this thread and admit that I was wrong.

            1. Skink

              Come back–we love people! But framing your argument as you do is likely to get you slapped-around. You won’t understand why and probably won’t recognize it happened, but that won’t be new to the lawyers and judges visiting this here Hotel.

              By the way, why is your return based on his challenging the school’s decision? Do you understand he may have real good reasons for declining that opportunity?

  4. joe b

    The phrase “Two years ago we admitted a student without knowing their legal history” is not grammatical– unless, of course, if the gender of the (singular) student is undefined.

    The UT president, an educated person, I am sure knows the rules of grammar. I am guessing President Benson chose the words “their legal history” (and not “his legal history”) to telegraph a life line: that if Anderson should announce to the mob that he is renouncing his toxic masculinity (perhaps with surgery to demonstrate sincerity) he –or should I say “they”–will be welcomed back

    1. SHG Post author

      I believe he’s trying to skirt FERPA by not acknowledging whom this blighted student might be, by gender or otherwise.

    2. losingtrader

      Since you’re raising the use of grammar, it’s clear (to one of us) what happened in this case is it was somehow partially rehydrated from “cut and dried” to only , “cut and dry.”

      That could be a significant difference.

    3. Jyjon

      Do you know what Jacob Anderson’s preferred pronoun is?

      tsk, this place is getting more and more unwoke by the day.

  5. Lee

    Except that he does not have a conviction, at this point. The point of deferred adjudication is that there is no final verdict until the defendant either (1) successfully completes the terms of his DA, or (2) violates the terms and a final conviction is entered against him.

    Thus the ability of one who successfully completes his or her deferred adjudication to truthfully state that he/she was never convicted. Nor, as a general rule, may a deferred adjudicated be used against the defendant (There are exceptions for subsequent offenses and some professional licenses, none of which appear to apply in Anderson’s case).

    As of today, Anderson is not a student convicted of a felony (at least, in Texas – See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42A.111).

    What gets me is the number of lawyers on the private Texas Lawyers group on Facebook who want him to “face the consequences” based solely on reports in the media and the statement of the victim. I didn’t realize that “believe the victim” and “screw due process, hang him” had reached so far.

    Lee

    1. SHG Post author

      I didn’t realize that “believe the victim” and “screw due process, hang him” had reached so far.

      If only there was someone, a lawyer maybe, saying this, over and over, into the void.

      1. Lee

        Apparently, even some lawyers don’t understand this, from what I’ve seen on the Texas Lawyers group. 🙁

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