Olympic boxer John Jackson has asked a judge to release him from jail due to the threat of COVID-19, but prosecutors say he can’t be trusted to follow the court’s orders after he urged one of the victims in his pending rape case to drop charges against him, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Jackson, 30, “faces an unacceptably high risk on a daily basis of contracting a COVID-19 infection that would result in adverse health consequences including death because of he suffers from asthma,” Assistant Federal Public Defender Kia Sears said in a motion filed on May 8.
Jackson has been held without bond in pretrial detention for 14 months at Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center in Puerto Rico, and Sears asked that he be released to the custody of his father, Julian Jackson, until his trial begins on July 20.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Rainwater said in a motion filed Thursday that Jackson poses an ongoing danger to the community, and his risk of coronavirus infection is negligible.
Jackson was arrested on Feb. 6, 2019, after the father of a 15-year-old girl said Jackson had plied her with alcohol and marijuana brownies and raped her. He was released after posting 10 percent of his $75,000 bond, and ordered to have no contact with the victim in the case.
“After his release on the territorial charges, and while under a no contact order, defendant had at least one telephone conversation with a minor victim. In addition to communicating with the victim, defendant urged victim to drop the charges,” Rainwater wrote.
Jackson was subsequently arrested and charged with federal child pornography crimes after investigators found a video he allegedly made of himself having sex with the victim.
Following the first child’s report, other victims came forward and prosecutors have since charged Jackson with assaulting two other girls, according to court records.
Jackson has been in jail since his federal arrest on Feb. 23 and is facing 11 criminal charges and one forfeiture charge, including first-degree rape, five counts of aggravated second-degree rape, two counts of production of child pornography and three counts of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.
On March 19, 2019, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller ordered Jackson detained without bond, and noted “the strength of the government’s case and the seriousness of the allegations, and that defendant admitted to having a sexual relationship with the minor,” according to court records.
While Sears argued the court should free vulnerable inmates and those who can be “safely released,” Rainwater wrote, “Jackson is not one of those individuals. Defendant Jackson has proven himself to be one who will not follow court orders.”
A history of asthma in and of itself is not sufficient to warrant release, she also argued, and there have been no COVID-19 infections to date at the Guaynabo facility.
Sears said the courts should be reducing the general jail population during the ongoing pandemic, but Rainwater wrote that “this can be achieved through the release of other individuals, not those who are charged with numerous sex crimes, including many different offense dates, and involving multiple minor victims.”
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Molloy has yet to rule on Jackson’s request for release.