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Abbott wants Texas Rangers to investigate sexual harassment

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Texas Rangers to begin handling sexual misconduct complaints against lawmakers, judges and other elected officials (Photo: Office of the Governor of Greg Abbott)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the state's top criminal investigators to begin handling sexual misconduct complaints against lawmakers, judges and other elected officials.

Abbott on Tuesday called for changing how sexual harassment allegations in the state Capitol are investigated during a campaign stop in Houston. He says letting the Texas Rangers handle complaints would ensure that public officials take allegations against them seriously.

"What we are seeking to do is establish the leading law enforcement agency in the state of Texas, the Texas Rangers, with the authority to investigate any type of wrong doing, any type of sexual assault, any type of sexual harassment, to make sure that a good, thorough, complete investigation is going to be completed," Governor Greg Abbott told CBS Austin.

The Texas Legislature would have to approve the change in process next year.

Currently, sexual harassment allegations in the Legislature are reported to state Senate and House leadership. That has drawn criticism since lawmakers may be wary of punishing their own colleagues.

Lawmakers in several state legislatures around the country have resigned amid harassment allegations, though none in Texas.

Strengthening reporting protocols is just one part of Gov. Abbott's "Preventing, Protecting, Punishing" plan.

Other part of his plan include enhancing punishments for human trafficking crimes, providing funding to clear the backlog of rape test kits, and creating a "do not hire" registry to crack down on inappropriate student-teacher relationships.

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