The trial of a former Michigan City police officer accused of having sex with a mentally disadvantaged woman ended Tuesday night in a hung jury.
Thomas Jackson, 54, of Trail Creek, was charged with four counts of level 3 felony rape. Rape was alleged because the 25-year-old woman was not legally capable of giving consent, according to prosecutors.
During closing arguments, LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule said the woman appears normal, but when she begins interacting, he said, it doesn't take long to realize she has the mind of a young child.
"Nothing suggests she's a consenting adult," he said.
According to evidence, the woman and her parents were at a social gathering when she was introduced to Jackson, a 27-year-member of the police department. Several months later, Jackson asked if he could take her out for ice cream and coffee or walks in the park.
Her parents, believing it would be a positive for their daughter, gave him permission, police said.
But, Roule said, he took her to places like a hotel and the back of his van to engage in sex.
The allegations came to light when an officer approached the van at Prairie Meadow Park in Westville when the park was about to close. Unable to see inside, the officer called out and told Jackson and the woman to engage in such behavior in a more private setting, police said. He then sent them on their way.
The woman, frightened by the encounter, told her mother about that and other sexual encounters with Jackson, according to records.
Defense attorney Craig Braje said his client might have to "answer to his maker" for what he did, but his actions were not criminal.
Braje said his client knew only that "she had a learning disability and she was special."
"The reality is they were two adults having an affair and continued it in a relationship over a period of time," Braje said.
Roule said the woman can't read or write and is under the legal guardianship of her parents. He also said it was impossible for Jackson not to know the full extent of her disability because of the amount of time they spent with each other and his years of experience as a police officer.