The former Baylor University fraternity president accused of raping a 19-year-old woman when they were both students at the college in 2016 will reportedly be allowed to receive his diploma from another school.
According to a statement released this week by University of Texas at Dallas president Richard C. Benson, the school admitted 23-year-old Jacob Walter Anderson two years ago “without knowing [his] legal history” after he was expelled from Baylor in the wake of the rape allegations. Despite having been banned from physically visiting the school’s campus, Anderson will be granted a diploma from UT Dallas, so long as he “successfully satisfies all the requirements of the degree program,” according to the letter.
Anderson, the statement continues, will not be physically present to partake in UTD commencement activities, and “will not attend UT Dallas graduate school and will not be present on campus as a student or as a guest” in the future.
“Looking forward, I have asked for a full review of our application and enrollment process to help keep our campus safe,” Benson wrote. “This review will include a cross-section of our community — including student and faculty representation. I assure you that UT Dallas will be a leader in providing safe learning and working environments.”
The news comes just days after a judge offered Anderson a controversial plea deal — which amounted to a $400 USD fine and a recommended three years of deferred adjudication probation —in response to the four counts of sexual assault, two to 20 years in prison and $10,000 USD fine he had initially been faced with.
The unusually lenient deal for an accused rapist has resulted in swift backlash from those across Texas who feel that it falls short of sufficiently punishing the accused, and a petition beseeching a judge to reject the bargain garnered over 120,000 signatures
“The young woman did all the right things,” the petition reads. “She was taken to a local hospital. She contacted police. She spoke with prosecutors. But the man charged with her rape has now agreed to a plea deal that would reduce the rape charges to third degree felony charge of unlawful restraint.”
Those who signed the petition were not alone in their outrage over the outcome of the sentencing. In a scorched-earth impact statement delivered in court on Monday, the victim — identified in court documents as Donna Doe in order to protect her identity — called out both the assistant district attorney and county district attorney on the case, neither of whom had come to court for the sentencing.
"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,” the victim said. “You both will have to live with this decision to let a rapist run free in society without any warning to future victims.”
Next, she turned her attention to Anderson himself, who she testified had assaulted her behind a tent during a fraternity part after she became woozy from drinking a cup of punch.
“It must be horrible to be you,” she said, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. “To know what you did to me. To know you are a rapist. To know that you almost killed me. To know that you ruined my life, stole my virginity and stole many other things from me.”
The victim also previously testified that she woke up in the aftermath of the alleged assault choking on her own vomit.
“By the grace of God I am alive today to fight this injustice,” she wrote. “One breath either way and Jacob Walter Anderson would be on trial for murder.”
A petition requesting the resignation of the judge who handed down the sentence is currently making the rounds, and as of this writing had more than 36,000 signatures.
Following the sentencing, the victim’s attorney, Vic Feazell, told local outlet KWTX that he has “never, ever have seen such a sweetheart deal for a defendant like this.”
“It pays to be rich and white in McLennan County when you’re charged with a crime,” he added.