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Outrage Grows Over Baylor Rape Plea Deal

Thousands calling for judge who accepted it to be removed from office
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2018 11:49 AM CST
In this December 10 photo, former Baylor University fraternity president Jacob Anderson walks out of the courtroom in Waco, Texas. Anderson, accused of rape, will serve no jail time after a Waco district...   (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

(Newser) – A week after a judge accepted a controversial plea deal for a former Baylor University fraternity president accused of rape, outrage is growing. USA Today reports on two petitions gaining momentum, one calling for the plea deal to be thrown out (more than 124,000 have signed as of this writing) and one calling for the judge to resign or be removed from office (more than 51,000 have signed as of this writing). Under the terms of the no-contest plea, Jacob Anderson will serve no jail time and will pay a $400 fine; he will not be required to register as a sex offender. It's not clear whether either petition has a hope of succeeding in its goal; USA Today notes that in Texas, there is no option for the public to recall judges, but legal experts say it may still be difficult for Judge Ralph Strother to remain on the bench. The 75-year-old's term ends in 2020. More on the case:

  • Prosecutor: Experts also say it will be difficult for the prosecutor who accepted the plea rather than going to trial, Hilary LaBorde, to recover from the backlash. LaBorde is also under fire for not appearing at the Monday hearing at which the plea was accepted.
  • What the prosecutor and the judge have to say: In explaining why she accepted the plea, LaBorde said the case would be hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, citing "conflicting evidence and statements." She told the victim that since Anderson did not have a history of sexual assaults, the jury would likely side with him. And after the plea deal, she said "there are many facts that the public does not have." For his part, Strother said the public comments surrounding the plea deal "fall into three categories: not fully informed, misinformed or totally uninformed.”

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