State of Texas: Cracking down on sexual predators

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced a set of policy proposals to strengthen reporting protocols for sexual harassment in the workplace. One part of the plan targets allegations of misconduct by lawmakers at the Capitol. The Governor’s plan would put the Texas Rangers in charge of those criminal investigations.

“Putting these claims in the hands of the Texas Rangers will ensure that allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment are fair and thoroughly investigated,” Gov. Abbott said.

That proposal was just one part of a larger-reaching plan to combat sex crimes in Texas. Gov. Abbott was joined at the announcement in Houston by families who have been affected by sex crimes.

His plan includes proposals to enhance penalties for human traffickers and to provide funding to create squads to investigate trafficking. The Governor also pledged to provide $14 million to eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits. His proposals would also add new measures to crack down on inappropriate relationships between teachers and students.

“To better protect our students from this ongoing abuse by school employees, I want Texas to create a do-not-hire registry of educators and other adults who have been barred, or who should be barred from school employment due to teacher-student predatory relationships,” Abbott said.

The Governor’s proposals build on the work of lawmakers during the past session. Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, pushed a bill to expand the reach of laws involving improper relationships beyond teachers.

“We knew it was important because it wasn’t just teachers in some circumstances that were having inappropriate relationships with students but it was non-certified teachers as well,” Rep. Dale said. He praised the Governor’s proposal to create a do-not-hire registry.

“It’s important that we’re not moving these people from school to school,” Dale explained. “Sometimes they move from the public system into the private system and this registry would allow private schools to access that list and make sure they’re hiring people that aren’t going to prey on children.”

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