Rape trial opens for former cop
MICHIGAN CITY — The rape trial against former Michigan City police officer Thomas K. Jackson is underway in La Porte Superior Court 1 this week.
In opening statements Tuesday morning, the state told the jury the victim is an intellectually disabled 25-year-old woman whose disability prohibits her from being able to consent to sex.
Deputy Prosecutor Elizabeth Boehm described the victim as unable to drive, do laundry, remember to perform basic hygiene practices or write much more than her own name.
However, she said, a Westville police officer discovered the woman and Jackson, then 51, having sex in a van parked at a baseball field on March 5, 2017.
According to Boehm, the victim had been told not to tell anyone about the reported sexual encounters she had had with Jackson.
“The state’s position is that (victim) could not consent due to her disability,” Boehm told the jury.
Craig Braje, Jackson’s defense attorney, confirmed that Jackson and the woman were approached by an officer at a baseball field. However, he said, the officer only saw movement in the van and not sex, and felt satisfied with their conversation enough to allow the two to leave the scene together.
The state alleges a sexual relationship between Jackson and the victim existed from February 2013 through March 2017, but Braje said no evidence exists to prove such a claim.
He described how Jackson and the woman met: At the home of one of her relatives, who also was friends with Jackson. The man reportedly hosted multiple parties to which both were invited, as well as several other guests.
Braje indicated it was the victim’s mother who had asked Jackson to spend time with her daughter, and take her out to do activities. But, he said, “(Victim) acted as an adult, did things as an adult, performed and had an adult lifestyle.”
According to Braje, the woman’s IQ measurements are 15 to 20 years old, and her dyslexia diagnosis doesn’t prohibit her from consenting to sex.
In fact, he said, the woman’s mother had provided her daughter with thorough sex education as a teenager, going as far as to buy the girl a vibrator when she turned 18 and take her to a male strip club and casino when she turned 21.
Additionally, the alleged victim had had previous boyfriends and had been engaged at one point in time, with her mother’s permission to have sex after she was married, Braje told the jury.
He contended the young woman was not mad at or scared of Jackson, but of the idea that she might be arrested after having been approached by the on-duty police officer. He suggested that her fear of arrest is what prompted her to tell her mother about the sexual relationship she had with Jackson.
Braje told the jury that Jackson was wrong for having cheated on his wife, but said his client did not rape anyone.
“(Victim’s mother) didn’t want the sexual relationship to be with Tom Jackson, and that is understandable, but it’s not criminal,” Braje concluded.
According to court documents, the victim has the mental and emotional abilities of a child between the ages of 10 and 12. She is expected to testify sometime on Wednesday.
Jackson resigned from the Michigan City Police Department last March after becoming the subject of investigation. He faces four counts of Level 3 felony rape in which the victim is mentally disabled or deficient, each of which carries a potential sentence of 3 to 16 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.
Pending the resolution of his case, Jackson remains free on $2,500 cash bond and GPS monitoring.