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No charges files in Capitol date rape drug incident

A not very satisfying resolution.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday “that there is not enough evidence to support” an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and that “no crime occurred in this instance.”

“DPS has conducted a thorough investigation following allegations of drugging of a Capitol staffer by a lobbyist,” the joint statement said. “Together, we have concluded that … criminal charges are not appropriate.”

The statement did not name the lobbyist, and officials have not offered further details — including the names of anyone allegedly involved — since DPS confirmed it was investigating the allegation, as first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Earlier this week though, after DPS confirmed it was investigating the allegation, Bill Miller, a co-founder of the prominent Austin-based HillCo Partners, told The Texas Tribune that one of its employees was “a person of interest” in the investigation.

In a statement after Thursday’s news, Miller said that neither the firm nor the employee “had absolutely anything to do with the” allegation and said “DPS found we are completely clear of any and all wrongdoing.”

“The announcement today confirms our own internal investigation into the issue,” Miller said. “We commend law enforcement for a forceful and swift investigation into this serious matter.

After news of the investigation surfaced Saturday, state lawmakers, staffers and other Capitol observers expressed outrage, with many House members declaring that they planned to ban from their offices any lobbyist or lobby firm associated with the accusation. By Sunday, Buddy Jones, another co-founder of HillCo told state lawmakers in an email that the group had hired outside legal counsel and “a respected former law enforcement official” to launch an investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, Austin lawyers David and Perry Minton, who said earlier this week they were representing a person” purportedly being looked into” for the investigation, said in a statement Thursday that the allegation was “100% false.”

“It is our opinion that the individual or individuals involved in this outrages and immoral scheme [of making the allegation] should be held accountable by their employers and then prosecuted by our new district attorney,” the two said.

See here and here for the background. You can see the full statement here. Saying there’s not enough evidence to support the allegations is not the same as saying that nothing bad happened – to say “no crime occurred” is a tautology, since that is exactly what it means to not bring charges. We have due process for a reason, and this is the result. Maybe nothing did happen, or at least nothing that was ill-intentioned. Maybe it was too late for a drug test to render a judgment, since rohypnol metabolizes quickly. Maybe this was just another powerful guy getting away with it. We’ll never know for sure. If the lobbyist in question, whose name has been released by one right wing website, is innocent then this really sucks for him, since this incident will always follow him around. It’s going to suck even more for the woman who made the allegation, especially if it was true.

Putting all that aside, and putting aside the bills that have been filed to try to do something about sexual harassment and sexual assault at the Capitol, the one thing that seems clear is that little to nothing will change from a cultural perspective. Women aren’t going to be any more respected or valued at the Capitol, and the men who have been at the forefront of creating the hostile environment they work in – as well as the men and women who enable that environment – will not be held accountable. It’s aggravating, and I say that as a dude who has never been in a remotely similar position. My thoughts are with the woman who made the report, and with everyone who has ever gone through something like that. The Chron has more.

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2 Comments

  1. Kibitzer says:

    Not satisfying indeed

    ON CALLS FOR AN END OF DUE PROCESS, AND CONVICTION WITHOUT EVIDENCE

    Kuff:

    This regular commentator on matter of public interest is dismayed that an educated and intelligent person like yourself, not to mention a pre-eminent opinion-shaper with a wide readership, would display such a *weak commitment* to the most basic precepts of criminal justice in what is – at least for now – still a non-totalitarian political system.

    In order to bring criminal charges, there has to be *probable cause.* The two agencies schooled in doing the necessary investigation found none. So there.

    You are of course at liberty to second-guess their determination and opine differently, but on what basis? — DPS and DA had whatever evidence is available, and the requisite expertise to evaluate it, while you and I have neither.

    All you offer is speculation. How do you even know what chemical substance — controlled or otherwise — might have been involved, if any? And even the twitter-disseminated narrative averred that the complainant “thought” she may have been drugged, rather than affirmatively asserting so. (Kindly correct the paraphrase if mistaken). Nor was there even an allegation of penetration or digital (tactile) contact with genitals or other private body parts or areas. See Senfronia’s bill for Criminal Code reference to the various definitions of sexual assault.

    What you have put on display here in commenting on the “rape” rumor is a pre-conceived conviction of your own (arrived at without evidence) that the unnamed lobbyist is guilty of misconduct, apparently based on nothing but a prejudgment as to what that person is (or represents to you).

    And your framing of the “feeding-frenzy” media material via headline has now morphed into a “date rape drug incident,” with the implication that were was a “date rape”, that it was facilitated by a “drug”, and that there was an “incident”, rather than an allegations that could not be substantiated with evidence.

    The authorities (2 distinct agencies) found no evidence that would warrant bringing charges, and you double down and advocated to the contrary. Without having *any* evidence of your own (other than multiply regurgitated rape rumors); and presumably no access to the evidence/interviews that form the basis of the DA’s conclusion, which you cannot therefore be in a position to evaluate/interpret differently.

    That obvious lack of an open mind on the matter, and absence of a willingness to let your ultimate judgment be guided by the evidence to be presented and the applicable law, would get you struck off a jury (venire) promptly. — And rightfully so.

    WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE ?

    A finding that there is not the requisite evidence to support a criminal charge has little if anything to do with due process, which doesn’t kick in until a prosecution is initiated and the person of interest’s liberty becomes imperiled.

    Even if you could nevertheless argue that adherence to due process produced the outcome that you deplore (perhaps on the premise that the accused may have had a chance to volunteer information, thus perhaps helping discredit the allegation), what is your prescription here? Doing away with due process? Mob “justice”? Taking “justice” into your own hands?

    Or taking a vote on Twitter as to whether to convict people of serious crimes without bothering with legal rules and procedures? If that were to happen, no one would be safe. Time for witch and wizard trials.

    More fundamentally, why is it that even those on the Left want to address every social issue through the criminal justice system and incarceration? And worse, see the long-standing rules and procedures in place to avoid wrongful convictions as a hindrance, if not an annoyance?

    Lastly, if there is something there short of meeting criminal prosecution criteria, the civil courts are available to entertain tort claims, unless the defendant is a public official or a Texas attorney, thanks to protectionist SCOTX immunity jurisprudence benefitting those categories of defendants.

    Here, the lobbyist at issue is not a public officials. It will be interesting to see whether he invokes attorney-immunity (if holding a law license) or some creative analogous version thereof for lobbyists (registered status?), should the staffer in question sue him in tort.

    That — tort immunity extension by judicial fiat — would indeed provide fodder for a useful and much-needed public debate, and the role of courts and legislatures in making policy that immunizes entire industries and categories of wrongdoers from being held liable in civil court.

    Unfounded rape rumors propagated over Twitter. Not so much.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Kuff,

    I was actually nodding my head in agreement with you on your analysis, right up until this part:

    “Putting all that aside, and putting aside the bills that have been filed to try to do something about sexual harassment and sexual assault at the Capitol, the one thing that seems clear is that little to nothing will change from a cultural perspective. Women aren’t going to be any more respected or valued at the Capitol, and the men who have been at the forefront of creating the hostile environment they work in – as well as the men and women who enable that environment – will not be held accountable. It’s aggravating, and I say that as a dude who has never been in a remotely similar position……”

    You just pointed out that we’ll never know if this allegation was actually true or not. There’s no evidence, so the criminal case was closed. That’s it.

    You go on to use an accusation that may or may not be true to show that there’s a hostile work environment for ALL women working at the Texas Capitol, that it must change, and that women are being assaulted and it’s commonplace. Where are you getting this from? I remember the pound me too’ers at their heyday, accusing anyone and everyone of molesting them, but I don’t remember a whole lot of Texas women who work at the Capitol in on that. Even now, with this very public accusation, where are the hundreds of women all coming forward to say that yes, they were date raped by people working in the Capitol as well?

    So why are you aggravated? A woman made an accusation that couldn’t be corroborated after being fully investigated by law enforcement. Don’t you think they looked for other women to come forward and say that they too were raped, to show a pattern? Clearly, there was no pattern. Now we’re down to he said she said, and it’s really hard to prove a negative.

    Then there’s this:

    “My thoughts are with the woman who made the report, and with everyone who has ever gone through something like that.”

    Do your thoughts include the Duke Lacrosse team victims, the Tawanna Brawley victim, and other victims of false accusations? Do your thoughts go out to every man going through a divorce that has been falsely accused of molesting the children, a common tactic used by women to get control of the kids? Do your thoughts include Joe Biden, accused by Tara Reade and others? How about Kavanaugh, after being savaged by “all aboard the rape train” and an accusation by a prevaricating woman who couldn’t even prove she had ever MET Kav. The closest she got was that they grew up in the same region, but not near each other.

    If you were accused of something like that, and all that could be proved was that your accuser lived in Houston and so did you, that’s weak sauce. My thoughts would be with you, the falsely accused REAL victim.

    You were so spot on in your analysis showing that we’ll never know what or if anything untoward actually happened, then go on to crucify not only the accused in that case, but ALL men.

    Wolf,

    I agree 100%, excellent write up.