PETITION FOR JUDGE RALPH STROTHER TO RESIGN REACHES OVER 25, 816
So, Hilary, if you can’t convict good looking people, what would happen to poor Ralph? If unattractive equals guilty……….just sayin’.
Thousands have signed a petition calling for the judge in an ex-Baylor frat president’s rape case to resign or be removed from office after he accepted a plea deal that involved no jail time.
On Monday, Judge Ralph Strother accepted the plea agreement for Jacob W. Anderson, a former Baylor student who was accused of raping a woman referred to as Donna Doe in 2016. As part of the deal, Anderson agreed to plea to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint and will not have to register as a sex offender.
Strother and Assistant District Attorney Hilary LaBorde, who prosecuted the case, were not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
The petition, titled “Request the Resignation of Judge Ralph Strother,” had more than 18,000 signatures on the Care2 Petitions website early Thursday afternoon. The petition attacks both Strother and LaBorde, who agreed to the plea deal .
Donna Doe’s family said LaBorde blindsided them with the plea deal after reassuring them that Anderson would be convicted. In emails between LaBorde and Doe’s family, LaBorde said she thought a plea deal would be best because she had just tried a rape case similar to Doe’s in which the accused rapist was not convicted.
Some of the reasons listed in the petition for Strother’s removal were:
- “The sixth amendment guaranteeing the right to a speedy and public trial was not honored.
- A system created by wealthy white men protects wealthy white men.
- When judges on benches see themselves reflected in the face of a perpetrator and recuse him of all responsibility, they will not feel a modicum of remorse due to their privilege of race and class.
- A prior case lost by LaBorde is not a reasonable basis for LaBorde’s lack of attempt to bring this one to trial.
- LaBorde’s unwillingness to allow Mary her day in court betrays fundamental basic human rights and perpetuates a climate in which future victims will continue to report sex crimes at an alarmingly low rate.”
Strother told KWKT he has also received death threats via email in response to the plea deal.
After the plea deal was accepted Monday, LaBorde issued a statement in defense of the deal.
“Given the claims made publicly, I understand why people are upset,” she wrote. “However, all of the facts must be considered and there are many facts that the public does not have. In approving this agreement, Judge Strother had access to all the statements that have ever been made by all people involved and agreed that the plea agreement offered was appropriate in this case.”
Strother, the 19th State District Judge in McLennan County, ran unopposed in the GOP primary in 2016, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. Archived news articles from The Baylor Lariat, the university’s newspaper, state that Strother was appointed to the post in 1999 by then Gov. George W. Bush. He served as first assistant district attorney for McLennan County before his appointment.
Strother is listed as a prominent alumni by Baylor University.
In 2017, Strother sentenced a man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Baylor student in 2013 to deferred adjudication probation and ordered him to pay for the woman’s counseling, according to the Waco Tribune.
Earlier this year, Strother allowed a man convicted of sexual assault to serve jail time on the weekends. The man was a former Baylor student and was given 30 days in days, AP reported.
Politicians also voiced their criticism of Strother, such as Jana Lynn Sanchez, a Democrat who recently lost a bid for U.S. Congress.
Sanchez said she was “furious” that the victim in the Anderson case did not get justice. She called out GOP judges who run on law-and-order platforms but are more lenient when victims are women or people of color.
Sanchez said women are angry about this Texas case which unfolded against the backdrop of a national conversation on women’s and victim’s rights.
“Many women are furious and have been furious following the election of an admitted sexual predator to the highest office in the land over a vastly more qualified woman. Then the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh over serious objections of millions of women served to highlight the absence of representation for women in our political system,” Sanchez told the Star-Telegram in a text message.
The petition is the latest backlash against Anderson and the rape case, which has prompted several online petitions of people across the state and country speaking out against the plea deal in Anderson’s case.
On Wednesday, about 20,000 people signed a different petition for Anderson to be removed from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he currently is enrolled as a senior. On Wednesday night, UTD announced one of its students, presumably Anderson, will not be allowed to participate in the school’s graduation ceremony or attend graduate school there.
The statement did not directly identify Anderson. According to school officials, Anderson was still enrolled at UT Dallas as of Wednesday but not enrolled for a graduate program.
In 2016, Anderson, 23, of Garland, was accused of raping a 19-year-old student referred to as Donna Doe in court documents at a Phi Delta Theta party. He was arrested, expelled from the university and, in June 2018, indicted on four counts of sexual assault.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.