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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeNewsLocal newsJohn Jackson Seeks 15-Year Sentence on Rape, Child Porn Charges

John Jackson Seeks 15-Year Sentence on Rape, Child Porn Charges

John Jackson should get 15 years for his conviction on rape and child pornography charges — not life behind bars that federal guidelines dictate — and is “a great candidate for rehabilitation,” according to a sentencing memorandum his attorney filed Monday in V.I. District Court.

John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)
John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)

Jackson, 33, was found guilty at his jury trial in April and is set to be sentenced on Feb. 23, more than four years after his arrest on Feb. 6, 2019, on St. Thomas for first-degree rape, aggravated second-degree rape, transportation to engage in criminal sexual activity, and production of child pornography. He has been held without bail since that time at the Federal Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

In making the case for a “non-guidelines sentence,” public defender Jason Gonzalez-Delgado — Jackson’s sixth attorney since his arrest — cited his client’s previous lack of criminal history, his character as a dedicated father of two, and his discipline as a former Olympic and professional boxer.

The memorandum also disputes the veracity of the pre-sentence report by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which calls for extra penalties — enhancements, in legal parlance — given the age difference between Jackson and his victims, one who was 14 and in ninth grade when they met, and his filming of a sex act with one of them when she was 15 and he was 30.

In her sentencing memorandum filed in August, U.S. Attorney Delia Smith called for a term of 30 to 40 years, detailing Jackson’s predatory behavior, his complete lack of remorse, and his attempts to portray himself as an unwitting victim, dissuade his victims from testifying, and tarnish their reputations. While three of them testified at Jackson’s trial, Smith said there were at least three more victims, but they were afraid to participate.

Gonzalez-Delgado writes in his memorandum that “trial testimony and evidence at trial in this case showed that the girls sought communication with Defendant almost regularly. It cannot be reasonably said that Mr. Jackson unduly influenced the minors when communications between them showed the voluntariness of their behavior and the friendly relationship they all had.”

For example, “Jane Doe 1 would text Mr. Jackson to meet him in the morning at the ferry dock in St. Thomas and she would ask him if his friend and his mom wanted her to bring them breakfast; on another occasion she texted him to ask him to take her to a softball practice, and on another date she texted him and asked him to pick-her-up from her grandmother’s house and take her to the ferry dock. And it is important to note that these kinds of conversations occurred frequently and during the entire period of time when they knew each other; that is, even after the alleged first encounter,” according to the memorandum.

“Importantly, Jane Doe 1 even testified at trial that in 2019, when she would go to Mr. Jackson’s house, she would turn off the location services on her phone so that her parents wouldn’t track her and know of her whereabouts, and she would turn it back on again after she left his house. It cannot be reasonably said that a young woman who turns the location tracking off on her phone so that her parents don’t track her is under undue influence,” the memorandum states.

“Furthermore, Jane Doe 2 would be the one who texted Mr. Jackson to let him know where to pick-her-up. While Jane Doe 3 also testified that she would text every day with Mr. Jackson and just had ‘everyday conversations’. Even more so, that Jane Doe 3 testified that after the last time that she went to his house, they kept texting occasionally and having friendly conversation,” according to the memorandum.

As for filming a sex act between himself and one of the girls, it was simply “spur of the moment,” and not something Jackson planned, said Gonzalez-Delgado.

“[N]othing was presented at trial to sustain a claim that Defendant used his cell phone and Facebook Messenger with the purpose of producing sexually explicit material … it seems more factually possible that the production of the material occurred in the spur-of-the-moment, instead of it being a purpose that Mr. Jackson wanted to accomplish,” the memorandum states.

“Different would be the case if the evidence showed that Mr. Jackson would always just show up unannounced and demanded for them to get in the car with him to engage in sexual acts, or if Mr. Jackson displayed violent behavior when he picked-them-up, or if he threatened them or physically forced them to go with him after they asked not to,” Gonzalez-Delgado wrote.

“But this is not what was shown at trial; what was presented was that they communicated constantly and planned for Mr. Jackson to pick-them-up and sometimes even friendly conversation containing nothing illegal nor any wrongdoing,” he said.

Additionally, Jackson had no criminal history prior to his arrest, has been an upstanding inmate — earning four continuing education certificates while incarcerated — and a dedicated father and member of the community, said Gonzalez-Delgado.

“Mr. Jackson’s entire life was boxing; he also devoted his life to his two young sons, who are 10 and 8 years old. His sons live with their mother, but before his arrest, he shared custody of the boys, managed to co-parent, and financially supported his sons,” according to the memorandum.

“Mr. Jackson has great relationships with his sons, their mother, his family, and his community; all who have remained supportive throughout this process and have expressed their support for after Mr. Jackson is released from imprisonment,” it says.

Jackson hails from the revered Jackson boxing clan, including his brother Julius, now a celebrated chef and community advocate, and most notably his father, three-time world champion Julian “The Hawk” Jackson Sr., who was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in August, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in New York in 2019, among numerous other accolades.

Three letters of support accompany the memorandum, including from Jackson’s ex-wife and from Pastor Jeff Neevel of the St. Thomas Reformed Church, though they were not available to read on the court docket.

“Importantly, Mr. Jackson’s ex-wife, the mother of his children, who has known him for over 13 years, describes him as a man with a ‘big heart’, who would ‘rather give his last to make others happy before himself’, as he makes her and their sons feel safe. She further explained that Mr. Jackson is their sons’ role model, as they adore his father,” according to the memorandum.

“Furthermore, before his arrest, Mr. Jackson was working as security at a church in St. Thomas. Reverend Jeffrey Neevel stated that Mr. Jackson is nothing but a gentleman who treats everyone with respect and concern, and he firmly believes Mr. Jackson is capable of redemption,” it says.

The memorandum also cites Jackson’s good behavior while in federal custody in Puerto Rico.

“During his time under the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), Mr. Jackson has maintained impeccable behavior, has not had any disciplinary infractions, and has even participated in educational courses,” the document states. “Thus, we can state that his process of rehabilitation has begun successfully. Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between the education received by an inmate and his recidivism rate.”

Jackson wants to have a career in real estate once he is released, and his plans also include living close to his sons and family, and to continue financially and emotionally supporting his sons, the memorandum states.

“His familial relationships as well as his specific plans for after release bolster our argument that Mr. Jackson is a great candidate for rehabilitation and should be given the opportunity to do so,” it said.

“This term of imprisonment is adequate, is sufficient but not greater than necessary to meet the purposes of sentencing, and is just punishment for Mr. Jackson’s offense. A longer term of imprisonment would be detrimental to his life and rehabilitation and would not allow Mr. Jackson to have a meaningful opportunity for release during his lifetime,” the memorandum concludes.

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