A Virginia man who reportedly has seven or eight children with numerous women has been offered a plea deal in a child endangerment case, and part of the deal includes getting a vasectomy.
Jessie Lee Herald, 27, agreed to the plea deal in order to have his prison sentence reduced by five years for charges of child endangerment, hit-and-run driving and driving on a suspended license. Although the vasectomy portion of the deal has nothing to do with his specific crimes, Shenandoah County assistant prosecutor Ilona White said that she felt it was necessary to include so that he does not father more children once he gets out of jail.
"He needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out," White said.
“It was primarily due to the fact he had seven or eight children, all by different women, and we felt it might be in the commonwealth's interest for that to be part of the plea agreement,” White explained to the NV Daily.
Many people have compared the forced vasectomy to eugenics, but Herald’s attorney says that if that was the case, he and his client would never have agreed to the deal.
“I understand the comparison, but I don't think it's fair,” Charles Ramsey, Herald’s attorney, said. “That's kind of exaggerating it.”
“I would never agree with that line of thinking,” added White. “That was nowhere in my thought process.”
The vasectomy will have to take place within a year of Herald’s release from his 20-month prison sentence and he will have to pay for it on his own. Charles Herald, Jessie’s uncle, says that his nephew has supported some of the children he has fathered, but he does not know exactly how many there are.
“I don't think even he [Jessie] knows,” Charlest Herald said.
Ramsey says that both he and Herald agreed that they had to accept the plea deal.
"It was not a no-brainer for him," Ramsey said. "It was a difficult decision. I had some reservations as well, but I don't want to get too much into my opinion of it because it's not my decision."
Some have criticized White’s plea deal offer, saying that it has nothing to do with Herald’s crimes, but White continues to defend her decision.