TEXAS DIGEST: Texas House forms panel to prevent sexual harassment


House forms anti-sexual harassment panel

The Texas House has established a working group to try to prevent sexual harassment in the Legislature.

House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican not seeking re-election, announced Wednesday that the panel will be co-chaired by a Democrat and a Republican and include eight other lawmakers from both parties.

In December, the House Committee on Administration adopted new sexual harassment policies designed to make reporting wrongdoing easier, while requiring House staff to undergo anti-harassment training.

Straus said all current House members also completed that training.

Committee on Administration Chairman Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, has acknowledged receiving “a few” sexual harassment claims during his nine years in the post.

The Texas Senate announced months ago that it too was updating its sexual harassment policies, but it hasn’t yet announced a finished product.


Man arrested for posing as high school athlete

Police say a 25-year-old man posed as a 17-year-old Hurricane Harvey evacuee at Dallas high schools for nine months to compete on the basketball court.

Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley was arrested Friday. He faces a charge of tampering with government records.

Dallas school district officials say Gilstrap-Portley first enrolled at Skyline High School and later moved to Hillcrest High School, where he joined the basketball team.

District spokeswoman Robyn Harris said that Gilstrap-Portley took advantage of schools opening their doors to students displaced by the storm. She says district officials believe Gilstrap-Portley’s primary motivation was to play basketball.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa apologized to parents. He said the district will work to prevent a similar situation in the future.

An attorney wasn’t listed for Gilstrap-Portley in online records as of Wednesday.


Ex-mayor, husband, accused of bribery, fraud

A former mayor and her now-husband have been indicted in a public corruption case alleging fraud and bribery while she was in office.

Prosecutors say Laura Jordan, known as Laura Maczka while mayor of Richardson, and developer Mark Jordan made initial court appearances Wednesday in Plano.

The seven-count federal indictment announced Wednesday charges both with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, plus bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

The indictment says Jordan paid his future wife, while she was mayor from May 2013 through April 2015, about $58,000 plus travel costs and other benefits in exchange for her support for zoning changes leading to hundreds of new apartments in Richardson.

Online records didn’t immediately list attorney information for the Jordans.


Police officer suspended over use of force

A Houston police officer has been suspended for 45 days over unnecessary force in the New Year’s Eve arrest of a man found with guns in his hotel room in a felony case later dropped.

The Houston Chronicle reports disciplinary records show officer Ken Nealy was suspended without pay May 1.

Nealy was off-duty and working as a security guard when Russell Ziemba was arrested. A grand jury later found insufficient evidence for assault on a public servant charges.

Police said Ziemba smelled of alcohol and was arrested after refusing to leave the hotel. Police found guns and ammunition in his room. Ziemba told officers he moved the items from his parked truck to keep them from being stolen.

A police union attorney said the case is over and declined further comment.


NAACP calls for release of shooting video

Civil rights activists are calling for video and audio recordings to be released of a police standoff with an armed man ultimately shot dead by officers.

The NAACP wants Grand Prairie police to make public all recordings of the April 23 confrontation that ended with 37-year-old Carlos Deone High shot dead.

The shooting happened in an IKEA furniture store parking lot in the Dallas suburb. Police answering a report of a man slumped over in a car arrived to find High armed with a rifle.

Police Chief Steve Dye said officers demanded that High disarm and tried to negotiate his surrender, but High instead pointed his rifle at them. When a stun gun didn’t subdue High and he pointed the gun at officers a third time, police shot him dead, officials said.


Iranian activist slaying case set for trial

A Jordanian-born man accused in a pair of deaths that authorities describe as honor killings is claiming in the lead-up to his trial that court-appointed prosecutors have financial incentives to seek the death penalty.

The Houston Chronicle reports that defense attorneys are seeking to remove pro tem prosecutors from the high-profile Houston case before Ali Irsan stands trial later this month.

Irsan is facing a capital murder charge in the 2012 shooting death of an Iranian activist, 30-year-old Gelareh Bagherzadeh. Prosecutors also allege that Irsan also played a role in death of his son-in-law, 28-year-old Coty Beavers, 11 months later.

Authorities have said both slayings were driven by Irsan’s ire over his daughter marrying Beavers, a Christian.

Irsan’s wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and his son, Nasim Irsan, also face charges in the case.


2 jailed over livestock found in hot trucks

Two men are charged with animal cruelty after police stopped the two rented trucks the pair were driving and reported saving dozens of livestock found overheated inside.

In a statement, the Parmer County sheriff’s office said deputies and Farwell police, alerted by a caller, stopped a pair of panel trucks. Inside one were 38 dairy goats. In the other were seven goats, 58 chickens, five turkeys, three Guinea hens, two chinchillas and four dogs.

The statement says all were overheated and in distress with no water in a truck interior where the temperatures topped 95 degrees. Deputies said the trucks were carrying the animals from Colorado to Florida when they were stopped.

Farwell is on the Texas-New Mexico line 90 miles southwest of Amarillo.

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