Governor Greg Abbott announced a set of policy proposals aimed at combating sex and human trafficking, strengthening reporting protocols for sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace, closing gaps in the law to crack down on traffickers and working to end the backlog of sexual assault evidence kits.
Abbott held a press conference at the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston to announce the proposals, and he was joined by families who have been affected by these heinous crimes.
Just this week in East Texas, Samantha Woolverton, 32, was arrested for allegations of having an improper relationship with a student at Palestine High School.
In the last few years, teachers have been arrested and charged in Lufkin, Crockett, Tatum, Frankston and Jefferson.
CBS19 filed an open records request with the TEA to see how many teachers we're talking about. In fiscal year 2013, 163 cases were opened regarding inappropriate relationships with students or minors.
That number went up every year, increasing to 302 cases in fiscal year 2017.
"This plan will continue our fight to crack down on predatorial teacher student relationships in Texas," Abbott said.
Governor Abbott’s plan would:
- Allow allegations of sexual assault and other sexual offenses by legislators, statewide elected executive and judicial officials, agency officials and capitol complex employees to be reported to the Public Integrity Unit of the Texas Rangers for criminal investigation under Texas Government Code 411.0253.
- Provide $14 million in funding to eliminate the backlog of sexual assault evidence kits[MH1] . The Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor will kick start this effort with a $1 million grant to the Texas Department of Public Safety to allow for the testing of sexual assault kits by the University of North Texas Forensic Services Unit.
- Enhance penalties for human traffickers and provide the Department of Public Safety with $22 million in funding to create regional Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Human Trafficking squads.
- Further crack-down on inappropriate student-teacher relationships by creating a “Do Not Hire” registry.
“Whether it’s combating human trafficking or protecting sexual assault survivors, we have a duty to keep Texas safe and do everything we can to prevent these terrible crimes from being inflicted on any Texan," said Gov. Abbott.
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