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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, April 19, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsJohn Jackson Files Appeal of Rape, Child Pornography Convictions

John Jackson Files Appeal of Rape, Child Pornography Convictions

John Jackson has appealed his rape and child pornography convictions to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that evidence presented at his trial was insufficient to prove his intent or guilt, the search warrant used to gather evidence from his home was defective, and that authorities violated his Fourth Amendment rights while executing the warrant.

John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)
John A. Jackson (VIPD photo)

Jackson, 34, was sentenced in February to 25 years in prison for producing child pornography, transporting minors for the purpose of committing sex crimes, and first- and second-degree rape. He also must register as a sex offender when he completes his prison term.

Jackson — a father of two who once had a promising boxing career and represented the USVI in the sport at the 2008 Summer Olympics — is currently incarcerated at the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

He is represented by Matthew M. Robinson of Robinson & Brandt, PSC in Lexington, Kentucky.

Evidence presented at his trial and in court documents shows that Jackson trolled St. Thomas high schools and social media for his victims, including one who was 14 and in the ninth grade when they met. His arrest on Feb. 6, 2019, came after a friend of one of the victims convinced her to tell her father about the relationship, and he filed a police report. The child pornography conviction stems from a video found on the girl’s cellphone that Jackson made of them having sex when she was 15 and he was 30.

The three victims who testified in court detailed how Jackson would ply them with marijuana cigarettes and brownies before engaging them in sex — at his home, in a delivery truck he drove, in his car, and at a house near Brookman Road — but never took the drug himself.

In a ruling on Jan. 4, 2021, V.I. District Court Judge Robert Molloy rejected Jackson’s motion to suppress evidence gathered under the warrant, except for brownies that were seized during the search of his Mandahl home on Feb. 23, 2019, and later tested positive for marijuana.

Other items seized from Jackson’s home included electronics, jewelry, alleged drug paraphernalia, and an orange and pink pillow a victim had described being in his bedroom, according to court documents.

“[T]he Court finds that the magistrate judge had a substantial basis for concluding that there was probable cause to search Jackson’s residence and vehicle for evidence of child pornography,” Molloy wrote in his order. “Further, while the execution of the February 23, 2019 search warrant violated Jackson’s Fourth Amendment rights because, as presented to Jackson, the warrant did not contain a particularized list of items to be seized, the Court finds that suppression of the evidence recovered during the search is not warranted,” he said.

Jackson argues in his appeal that the absence of the list of the items to be seized did indeed violate his Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable searches and seizures of personal property.

He also alleges that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause because there was no reason to believe it would uncover any evidence at his residence or in his vehicle of the production of child pornography or child exploitation.

The appeal also alleges that the government failed to prove Jackson’s intent when he transported the victims in his vehicle. “[E]vidence was presented that the Appellant transported the females for various reasons, including: to and from school; to and from athletic practices; to and from non-sexual dates; and home from a bar after R.L. was intoxicated and needed a ride,” it states.

“At no point did the government produce evidence that the dominating motive in transporting the three girls was to engage in sexual intercourse. Appellant was engaged in the typical duties of a boyfriend in transporting girlfriends that did not have cars. While many of these trips may have ended in sexual intercourse, evidence was not presented that it was the primary cause for transporting the victims,” according to the appeal.

The government also failed to present evidence demonstrating that Jackson violated interstate commerce laws when he gave his victims rides, because he never crossed state lines as “all of the actions at issue occurred within the Virgin Islands,” according to the appeal.

“In denying the motion for judgment of acquittal on these charges, the District Court found that iPhones used by the Appellant were not produced in the Virgin Islands,” the appeal states. “[U]se of such facilities is useless in determining whether the regulated activity substantially affected interstate commerce. The Appellant further notes that he was not charged with a crime involving the iPhones, such as using a facility affecting interstate commerce knowingly to entice a juvenile to engage in sexual acts,” it says.

The appeal also alleges that there was insufficient evidence that Jackson intended to produce child pornography, stating that while he engaged in sexual activity numerous times with the victim, referred to by the initials R.L., only in one instance was a video taken of such activity.

“The Appellant had sexual contact with three different females in this case, with only the single video of him and R.L. being made. Clearly, the Appellant’s purpose in contacting the females, including R.L., was to engage in sexual activities, not to produce pornography. Appellant’s actions in recording sexual intercourse with her phone was spontaneous and did not evidence a purposeful and specific intent to produce child pornography,” the appeal alleges.

“The net effect of the lack of suppression and the lack of sufficient evidence resulted in a fundamental miscarriage of justice in this case, thereby depriving the Appellant of a fair trial. Accordingly, the Appellant submits that his convictions and subsequent sentences must be vacated,” the appeal concludes.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments on St. Croix during the week of Dec. 11. Whether it will consider Jackson’s appeal at that time is unknown.

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