Gov. Abbott announces plan to address sex assault, human trafficking

Gov. Greg Abbott announces special legislative session. June 6, 2017 (KXAN Photo)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces special legislative session. June 6, 2017 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of the increased discussion surrounding the #MeToo movement and a backlog of sexual assault kit testing in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new set of policy proposals Tuesday. The plan to address sexual assault, sexual harassment and human trafficking centers on three P’s “Preventing Crime, Protecting Texans, Punishing Criminals.”

“You have my commitment that I will continue to work to heal victims, to help prevent these despicable crimes and to punish the criminals who commit them,” Abbott said in a statement. “Together, we will work to build a stronger, more secure future for our great state.”

The proposal provides 13 recommendations in a variety of areas related to the topic, from investigating workplace issues to preventing abuse in schools.

Workplace harassment

  • Allow people to report claims against legislators, elected and judicial officials, agency directors and boards and Capitol Complex employees to the Texas Rangers. That would cost about $1.9 million in 2020-2021 to hire and pay new rangers.

Sex and human trafficking

  • Provide harsher punishments for promoting or compelling prostitution, including jail time and sex offender registration
  • Make sex offenders being in the same car as a minor who isn’t a family member a criminal offense
  • Increase the penalties for kidnapping a child
  • Increase penalties for sexual performance by a child and possession or promotion of child pornography
  • Allow those convicted of prostitution to clear their records if they were forced to do the underlying crime.
  • Increase the minimum age of employment at a sexually-oriented business from 18 to 21.
  • Prohibit minors from entering sexually-oriented businesses
  • Give $22 million to the Department of Public Safety to create Regional Criminal Investigation Division Human Trafficking squads and train law enforcement to recognize and stop human trafficking
  • Require state employees to watch sex and human trafficking prevention material

Sex assault evidence testing

  • Provide an additional $14 million to fund criminal lab testing of rape kits to eliminate the backlog

GPS monitoring for offenders

  • Allow a judge to include high-risk domestic violence abusers, human traffickers and repeat sex offenders in the GPS monitoring program

Protecting students

  • Create a “do-not-hire” registry for teachers and other adults not allowed to be employed with the school because they’ve engaged in a predatory teacher-student relationship or unlawful act with a minor. Additional protocols would also be added to prevent abuse by school employees.

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