A Maryland man has agreed to plead guilty to a hate crime charge involving graffiti found at a university that threatened black students with lynching, authorities said Monday.
Jerome Kevin Jackson, a 54-year-old black man, signed a conditional plea agreement on June 1, according to Wicomico County prosecutors. Jackson, a resident of Princess Anne, is scheduled to appear at a formal plea hearing on Friday.
Officials at Salisbury University canceled classes for a day after the graffiti was found in February.
According to the plea agreement, Jackson also will take responsibility for four other incidents involving “racist and sometimes gender discriminatory” graffiti found on campus last year.
In November, campus police investigated messages written inside two stairwells that included racial slurs and references to the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed by a gunman at an elementary school.
The February incident resulted in an investigation that included the FBI, Maryland State Police and local law enforcement agencies.
Jackson is charged with violating a law involving defacing of property when there is evidence that exhibits animosity against a person or group based on race, color religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or national origin.
Jackson has agreed to pay $494 in restitution, and prosecutors, who signed the plea agreement Monday, are seeking a sentence of 18 months in prison.
“As you are aware, these criminal acts have had an enormous and negative impact on the Salisbury University campus and our larger community as a whole,” prosecutors wrote in a May 29 letter to Jackson’s attorney.
Jackson’s admission of guilt and acceptance of responsibility will be critical to restoring confidence in the hearts and minds of students, parents, staff and prospective students, the prosecutors added.