Houston police suspended sex assault cases involving children – but why?

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.)

HOUSTON – As Houston Police work to get a handle on roughly 265,000 suspended incident reports due to the lack of personnel, including 4,000 incident reports dealing with sexual assault, KPRC 2 Investigates is learning new information about cases involving children, many of which had their investigations suspended.

In February, Chief Troy Finner announced eight years’ worth of various types of cases had been suspended, but he didn’t know if children were involved.

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Through law enforcement sources, KPRC 2 Investigates found HPD stopped suspending children’s cases around June 2018.

At the time, the Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU) was created through the merger of the Consolidated Child Physical Abuse Unit and the Child Sexual Abuse Unit.

“One of the main reasons this was done was to address the growing backlog of suspended child sexual abuse cases due to a lack of manpower in the unit,” said then-Commander David Angelo in a report prepared for HPD command staff, including the Executive Command Staff. Those executives included Art Acevedo, the then-police chief, and the then-Executive Assistant Chiefs, Troy Finner and Matt Slinkard. The latter left the department in 2023.

KPRC 2 Investigates obtained and confirmed the January 2019 report through multiple law enforcement sources. The three-page internal report shows HPD routinely suspended child sex assault cases due to the lack of manpower.

After identifying the “suspended case backlog” of incident reports, CACU gained 17 additional investigators to eliminate the backlog by 2019. KPRC 2 Investigates is working to verify that the backlog of child assault cases were eliminated.

Since February, HPD has worked to get a handle on suspended incident reports due to the lack of personnel. In his prepared statements, Chief Finner has referred to the investigations of suspended sex crimes as only involving adults.

At a round table discussion with the media and community members Tuesday, Chief Finner told KPRC 2 Investigates he was uncertain if any of the suspended cases involved children.

Friday evening, HPD responded and gave KPRC 2 Investigates the following statement:

“The document referenced is a divisional end-of-year 2018 summary from the Special Victims Division of HPD. At that time, Chief Finner was over Field and Support Operations, which included patrol functions, but not investigations. As such, his focus was on patrol and support operations. HPD is conducting an internal investigation as well as a thorough review of the use of the ‘Suspended - Lack of Personnel’ code. Part of this review ensures this code will never be used again. Any documents referenced ‘Suspended - Lack of Personnel’ incident reports are part of the ongoing investigation. In February 2024 when we initiated our review, 264,000 incident reports showed ‘Suspended lack of personnel’ in our records management system. If an incident report had been previously ‘Suspended - Lack of Personnel,’ and then investigated, it would not be a part of the current review.”

KPRC 2 Investigates spoke with Mayor John Whitmire less than an hour after he read our report, “Any sexual assault, juvenile is reprehensible, shocking.. adults, family violence all this critically important,” said Whitmire.


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About the Authors

As an Emmy award-winning journalist, Jason strives to serve the community by telling in-depth stories and taking on challenges many pass over. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his girlfriend Rosie, and dog named Dug.

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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