By Rewon Shimray | Staff Writer
Former Phi Delta Theta president Jacob Walter Anderson, who was indicted with four counts of sexual assault, has agreed to a plea bargain with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Waco Tribune-Herald reported that court records have not disclosed any further details on the plea bargain. Jim Dunnam, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, said he was unable to give a comment because of a lack of information at this time. Prosecuting attorneys Hillary LaBorde and Gabrielle Masset were not able to be reached for a comment by the time of publication.
Brian Serr, professor of law, said plea agreements are often used in cases of serious charges in order to “resolve uncertainty, because trial is risky.” In general, Serr said a defendant, although not wanting to admit guilt, often faces fear of conviction, while the government may be unsure if its ability to prove guilt without reasonable doubt. According to Serr, negotiations help both parties feel more at ease with the trial “having a more predictable outcome.”
As a result, the two parties may negotiate a settlement with a “no contest” plea. In a “no contest” plea, the defendant neither admits guilt nor disputes the charges.
In this negotiation, Serr explained, the defendant protects themselves from potential “greater, more detrimental” sentences that were at-risk in trial without a prior agreement.
A sexual assault conviction could result in sentence from two to 20 years, according to FindLaw, a business that provides online legal information.
Anderson was arrested with charges of sexual assault in March 2016. The alleged rape occurred at an off-campus Phi Delta Theta Fraternity party on Feb. 21. Anderson and 20 members are defendants a civil suit filed in 414th State District Court. In the lawsuit, the fraternity members allegedly practiced negligence in its risk management policies and procedures, alcohol distribution and handling of sexual assault reports.
Phi Delta Theta suspended its Baylor chapter following Anderson’s indictment in May 2016. He was released from McLennan County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
Anderson last attended Baylor in spring 2016, according to Lori Fogleman, Assistant Vice President for Media Communications.
According to Baylor’s Student Activities Greek Life webpage, Phi Delta Theta is set to return Spring 2019. Matt Burchett, Director of Student Activities, did not respond to questions about conditions of the fraternity’s return by the time of publication.