An August sentencing date has been set for former Olympic boxer John Jackson. Jackson, 32, was convicted of sexually abusing three teenage girls and recording those encounters on cell phones.
On Monday, Chief District Court Judge Robert Molloy ordered Jackson to appear at a sentencing hearing on Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. at the Ron deLugo Federal Courthouse on St. Thomas. On that day, the defendant faces a maximum term of life in prison.
Jurors took roughly six hours to deliberate and render a verdict on April 22, at the end of a four-day trial. The panel delivered guilty verdicts on six criminal counts, some federal and some local, including first-degree rape. Prosecutors produced witnesses who testified that in at least one instance, an intoxicating substance was given to one victim that could have left her in a stupor and unable to resist Jackson’s advances.
When the sentence is read by the court in August, it’s expected to spell out the penalties for both local and federal offenses. A source close to the case who asked to go unnamed pointed to a provision in Virgin Islands law that allows the court to sentence defendants in cases of this kind involving multiple offenses.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented several witnesses, including three teenage victims, their parents and friends, investigators, and members of law enforcement who helped put together the case. The defense presented no witnesses, although Jackson did appear by way of a recorded interview with police where he denied and later admitted having sex with one of the victims. He was arrested in February 2019, a few weeks after one of the female minors told authorities about her encounter with the defendant.
Jackson’s child pornography trial took place in a month set aside by the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council to raise awareness about assault and abuse. Council director Jacqueline Heyliger said outreach specialists on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John spend time visiting schools and other community centers to talk frankly with those who may fall victim to sexual assault and those who might offend.
She also recalled the comments of V.I. Attorney General Denise George at a recent webinar sponsored by the council on the subject of human trafficking. At the time, George mentioned a well-known trafficking case involving the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“She said once an individual is under the age of consent, that is an immediate offense,” Heyliger said. In the Virgin Islands, the age of consent is 18. “When we talk to young men, we always talk to them about the age discrepancy; even though they may be in the same community — like school, where the girl may be in 10th Grade and the boy may be in 12th Grade.”
The message outreach workers share with young men is that if the girl is under 18 and they are over 18, a sexual encounter could bring the kind of trouble that could affect them for a lifetime.
And in the case of Jackson, where the defendant was 30, and the victims were as young as 15, the age discrepancy cannot be ignored.