Abbott to Crack Down on Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking
Texas Rangers to have purview over investigations
By Mary Tuma,
4:10PM, Tue. Feb. 6, 2018
Following reports of sexual misconduct by Texas legislators and the growing #MeToo movement, Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled plans on Tuesday that would allow sexual assault claims against lawmakers, state elected officials, agency directors, and Capitol employees to be investigated by Texas Rangers. In revising sexual harassment policies late last year, lawmakers and advocates voiced concern over a lack of a neutral third party in the reporting process. By allowing these cases to be reported to the Rangers, Abbott says “the state can ensure claims are investigated by an impartial law enforcement body that is equipped to hold public servants accountable.”
As part of his package proposal, Abbott also calls for tougher enforcement of sex trafficking laws, including mandatory jail time for offenders; allowing those convicted of prostitution to clear their records if they were forced into the underlying crime; and a $22 million Department of Public Safety boost in order to create human trafficking squads and train law enforcement to recognize and stop trafficking. He’s additionally proposing $14 million to eliminate the backlog of rape kit testing, a troubling problem locally and statewide. Many of Abbott’s proposals require the Legislature’s approval.