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Man’s mental capacity could affect sentencing for rape, sexual assault of 2 girls

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Two years ago, while a mother bowled with her league at the AMF on Schrader Road, her daughters were approached in a playroom by Thomas Pherigo-Jackson.

According to his plea agreement Tuesday, Pherigo-Jackson, then 18-years-old, raped one sister and sexually assaulted the other inside a bathroom stall. One girl was just five, the other seven.

Thomas Pherigo-Jackson

Thomas Pherigo-Jackson

Legal expert Todd Stone says Thomas Pherigo-Jackson will likely serve some time behind bars, for the rape and sexual assault, but says his mental capacity could mean less time than what some might expect.

"The fact that he tried locking himself inside the stall in the case and doesn’t have the wherewithal to avoid detection… those issues that a defense attorney will raise with the judge,” said Stone. “That’s something that courts consider when they punish someone."

Jackson is deaf, which is classified as a disability. Through a sign language interpreter he acknowledged that he agreed to the plea deal.

It has also been reported that Jackson faced mental challenges growing up.

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The now-20-year-old Jackson faces up to life in prison for the rape and 20 years for the sexual assault. The charges also call for a mandatory placement on the Virginia Sex Offender registry.

"The offense does carry up to life for both, but when you weigh in with mental challenges, it makes it heart breaking for all,” said Stone. “You think about those two young girls who will be traumatized for life, and then you have this young man where his life is ruined, too.”

On April 14, a judge will decide on just how much time Jackson will serve.