Author: Jaclyn Ramkissoon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin
AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a “thorough investigation,” the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office concluded Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence to support allegations that a lobbyist drugged a capitol staffer.
Earlier this week, Texas DPS confirmed it was investigating the matter. Consulting firm HillCo Partners said it received a tip one of its employees was a “person of interest” in the case.
Texas DPS and the district attorney’s office said they take the allegation of drugging women “very seriously,” releasing the following joint statement Thursday afternoon:
“We work hard to ensure that potential victims are always treated with respect and dignity, and we encourage all women to continue reporting potential crimes to us. DPS has conducted a thorough investigation following allegations of drugging of a Capitol staffer by a lobbyist. Together, we have concluded that there is not enough evidence to support these allegations and that criminal charges are not appropriate. No crime occurred in this instance.”
The statement went on to say “women should have the right to feel safe at all times,” and the agencies are committed to advancing this conversation.
“This conversation is long overdue and we are encouraged by the Texas Legislature’s attention to these important issues,” the statement ended.
Even so, the allegations caused members of the Texas House and Senate to take a hard look at Capitol culture.
“These allegations shake our Capitol family to its core, and I am disgusted that this sort of predatory behavior is still taking place in and around our Capitol,” said Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, in an address to the House on Monday. “We can and we must do better when it comes to changing the culture in this building.”
A group of more than 30 House lawmakers — all women — also wrote an open letter to capitol staff and the public to show their support for the employee who came forward.
On Tuesday in the Texas Senate, all 31 senators signed on as joint authors to a bill that would require “sexual harassment prevention training and ethics training to register as a lobbyist.”
Austin lawyers David and Perry Minton maintain their client, the lobbyist being accused, did not drug any capitol staffers. They said their client has cooperated with the investigation in a new statement Thursday and alleged a “devious plan to frame our client,” but did not provide any details to support that claim. They also said some State of Texas officials had banned their client “from entering their offices to perform his job.”
If you are a victim of sexual assault and need help, you can reach out to the National Sexual Assault hotline at (800) 656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.