Former Democratic mayor of a Northern California city, Robert Jacob, has pleaded no contest to six counts of child sex crimes.
Jacob, 45, the former mayor of Sebastopol in Sonoma County, reached a plea deal earlier this month ahead of the jury trials scheduled for Friday.
The victim, a minor who turned 16 by the time of the hearing, testified that he met Jacob on the Grindr dating app.
The minor claimed that Jacob was aware he was underage.
According to the victim, he touched him sexually multiple times, invited unknown men to have sex with him, and sent him nude photos.
Fox News reported, the charges that Jacob pleaded no contest to include contacting the victim with the intent to commit a specific offense, arranging to meet the victim to engage in lewd and lascivious acts, and committing acts of sexual abuse against a victim under age 15.
As part of Jacob’s plea deal, five other felony counts were dismissed, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing online records from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
The Press Democrat reported the case came to light in 2021, when someone, possibly the victim or his parents, reported the sexual assaults to child protective services, which relayed them to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, said Sebastopol Police Chief Ron Nelson.
Because the assaults, which occurred between December 2019 and March 2021, took place in Jacob’s home in Sebastopol, they were referred to Sebastopol police, who arrested him on April 10, 2021, Nelson said.
According to Pink News, Jacob has built a career in the cannabis industry, with his cannabis company merging with a dispensary called SPARC in more recent years.
The founder and chief executive of SPARC, Erich Pearson, said in a statement that Jacob had not been “affiliated or associated with SPARC” for several years.
He described the allegations as “horrible and unconscionable,” adding:
“These abuses of power have no place in our communities nor our society, and have gone on for far too long. Our hearts and support go out to the victim and their families, and we at SPARC wish to make a clear statement that we believe victims and survivors, and this behaviour in no way reflects on the culture and values that we hold dear.”
Jacob served on the Sebastopol City Council in 2012 before being elected mayor in 2013.