Houston Prosecutor Fired For Asking About Crime Victim's Immigration Status
By BIll Galluccio
November 9, 2019
A Houston prosecutor was fired after he allegedly questioned the immigration status of a sexual assault victim. The alleged sexual assault happened in a Houston jail on Halloween night when an inmate, locked up for suspicion of driving drunk, pulled down his pants, and grabbed another inmate.
The officers wrote up a report and wanted to charge the inmate, Karl Bonner, with sexual assault. When officers discussed the pending charges with John Denholm, an assistant district attorney, Denholm questioned whether the victim was a U.S. citizen.
“The district attorney, out of nowhere, says, ‘Well, is the complainant illegal?’" Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, told the Washington Post. "He goes, ‘Because if he’s illegal, I’m not taking the charge.'"
The officer told Denholm that the victim had a Mexican consular identification card, but questioned why that was relevant. Denholm decided not to press charges against Bonner because the victim was in the United States illegally.
After news of Deholm's decision became public, Houston residents were outraged, and officials launched an investigation. After reviewing the circumstances of the case, they decided to fire Denholm.
“It is wrong to ask about a victim’s immigration status; it is against our policy, and it won’t be tolerated,” Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney, said in a statement. “We treat everyone equally under the law, no matter how they came to be here.”
Another prosecutor reviewed surveillance camera footage from the prison and charged Bonner with attempted sexual assault.