A judge has delayed boxer John Jackson’s criminal trial yet again — this time to July 19 — over the objection of prosecutors who argue the defense team has had ample time to prepare for his trial on child pornography and rape charges.
Jackson, 32, has been in jail for more than two years and had been scheduled to go to trial Monday.
Melanie Turnbull, assistant federal public defender, asked for another delay in a motion filed March 17, and said Jackson is facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted of the 11 felonies and other related charges he’s facing.
For example, Jackson is charged with two counts of production of child pornography, with each carrying a mandatory minimum 15-year prison sentence. Jackson is also charged with three federal counts of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity and five local counts of second-degree aggravated rape — each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years behind bars, and the possibility of life imprisonment, according to Turnbull’s motion. Jackson was arrested by V.I. Police 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, and he was initially released on bond.
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 pretrial detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, since Feb. 23, 2019, after a federal judge ordered him held without bond pending trial. His jury trial has been delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Turnbull said the Federal Public Defender’s office had travel restrictions in place that, until recently, prevented defense lawyers from meeting with their clients in Guaynabo.
Prior to this recent visit, counsel had not met with Mr. Jackson in person for over a year,” Turnbull wrote. “Here, the circumstances do not warrant a continuance of the trial date. The defendant’s attorneys have had sufficient time to investigate and prepare for trial,” countered Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Rainwater in response. In addition, Rainwater implored the judge to consider the effect yet another delay will have on the alleged victims in the case. “Precisely what weight should be given to victim concerns is for the court to decide, but that factor is not to be ignored by the court,” Rainwater wrote.
, in calling for only a two-week delay.
In an opinion filed March 19, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Molloy agreed with Jackson’s public defender and delayed the trial for another three months, to July 19.
Molloy acknowledged the need to protect crime victims from “unreasonable delay,” but said the court must also balance a defendant’s right to have effective counsel.