5 things to know in Houston’s suspended sexual assault cases investigation

In a “no cameras” session with the media, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said some charges have been filed in cases they went back and reviewed.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner during a March, 2024 news conference about the department's suspended sexual assault cases scandal. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Some criminal charges have been filed in sex assault cases that were suspended and are now under review
  • 3,883 of the 4,017 suspended sex assault cases have been reviewed
  • 67,533 of the 264,000 suspended criminal cases have been reviewed
  • HPD’s Internal Affairs investigation into the suspended cases scandal could end this month
  • Chief Finner calls the Houston Police Officers’ Union a “sideshow”

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HOUSTON, TX – Charges have been filed in some of the abandoned sexual assault cases the Houston police department went back and reviewed.

That revelation came from Chief Troy Finner today, three weeks after no updates from him in arguably one of the Houston Police Department’s largest scandals.

Finner answered reporter questions in a “no-cameras” discussion about the investigation into more than 264,000 suspended criminal cases over at least the last eight years. The cases were essentially abandoned when they were categorized SL, which stood for ‘Suspended; Lack of Personnel.’

The chief admitted knowing about the suspended cases back in 2021, and in November of 2023 issued a directive to the department to stop using the SL code.

While the plan is to review all of the suspended cases, the chief maintained sex assault and family crime cases are the highest priority. So far, 3,883 of the 4,017 suspended sexual assault cases have been reviewed. Overall, 67,533 of the entire batch of 264,000+ suspended cases have been reviewed. The department set up a team to conduct those reviews, with the help of trauma-trained specialists. At the same time, two separate investigations are underway -- an Internal Affairs investigation launched by the chief and an investigation with an independent panel appointed by Mayor John Whitmire.

Controversy has surrounded both investigations. Critics of the Internal Affairs investigation have questioned the integrity of the process and even demanded that Chief Finner recuse himself from overseeing, saying he should be questioned. The Houston Police Officers’ Union has been very vocal in its criticism. Finner today called the HPOU a “sideshow.”

Critics have also questioned how independent the mayor’s investigation can be when he appointed everyone and has deep connections with the five people on the panel.

KPRC 2 Investigates reporter Mario Diaz asked Chief Finner when he plans to publicly inform Houstonians with a news conference on the scandal, now over six weeks old. Finner said, “real soon.”

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About the Authors

Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.

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