By Darrell Todd Maurina
A 21-year-old accused of sexual assault reported to the Curry County Adult Detention Center Thursday evening for 60 days of sexual offender diagnostic testing.
John Jacobs faces up to 18 months in state prison after entering into a plea agreement with prosecutors to one count of attempted criminal sexual penetration.
Jacobs had been accused in connection with the alleged sexual assault of four women in Curry County.
In October, a Roosevelt County jury found Jacobs innocent of charges he raped an Eastern New Mexico University student.
After his trial began in the first of the four Curry County cases, he entered an Alford plea.
“The way the North Carolina vs. Alford plea works, it is admitted that if you went to court and the jury heard the case, you are saying there might be enough evidence the jury may find you guilty, but you are affirmatively saying to the world that you are not guilty and have committed no crime,” said Jacobs’ defense attorney, Gerald Baca.
Baca said his client entered the Alford plea to avoid the risk of a jury conviction, but strongly maintains his innocence and wants to get on with his life.
“If he had gone to trial and lost on all charges, he could have received up to 18 years in prison and he now faces a maximum of 18 months, which can be served at the discretion of the judge in state prison or on probation,” Baca said. “My client is having mixed feelings. He’s glad on the one hand to have resolution, but he’s thinking, ‘what if I had gone there and had been found not guilty?’ He’s hoping to qualify for probation.’”
Baca declined to specify what arguments he would make before Judge Teddy Hartley to justify probation rather than jail time before the sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Chandler, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Andrea Reeb, said the plea agreement spares the people they believe were victims from having to go through a trial.
“Our victim testified, and the defense expressed interest in a guilty plea after we presented three-fourths of our evidence,” Chandler said. “We began negotiating on that and came to an amicable decision, which would first and foremost protect any of our other victims from having to go to trial.”
Chandler said the victims will have the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing once Jacobs’ sexual offender diagnostic testing is completed.
“His exposure is up to 18 months in the Department of Corrections, but regardless of the sentence, he will be a registered sex offender,” Chandler said.
Baca said Jacobs’ future plans depend on whether he receives jail time, but didn’t rule out returning to ENMU as a student.
“He has plans to continue with his life and continue with his education if he gets probation,” Baca said.