TRAVIS COUNTY – Five woman are accusing past and present city officials of not properly investigating or prosecuting sexual assault cases.
They join three other women who filed a suit in June against Travis County and the City of Austin. The lawsuit claims that more than 1,000 women report sexual crimes to law enforcement each year, but fewer than 10 cases are ever prosecuted.
The suit also claims police and the District Attorney’s Office discriminate against women who have survived violent crimes.
One of the women who initially filed the suit in June chose to remain anonymous while two other women came forward alongside their attorneys.
“With every injustice that APD, Travis County and District (Attorney) Margaret Moore, committed against me, I lost more and more trust in every system and essentially in the world around me,” said plaintiff Marina Conner.
Moore is named in the lawsuit for statements claiming rapes by acquaintances are “traumatic occurrences,” more than criminal cases. Moore is also noted as indicating that testing the backlog of rape kits at APD is for “informational purposes,” not prosecution.
After the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits were discovered at APD in 2011, in April 2018 a new audit showed that the cases were now in the hands of forensics analysts. An initial audit showed serious flaws at the Austin Police DNA lab using outdated scientific practices.
“Women go to authorities in order to seek justice and to protect other women, but the policies and practices of law enforcement instead re-traumatize survivors while allowing their attackers to walk free,” said Jennifer Ecklund of Thompson & Knight and lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.