Assistant Harris County DA fired after questioning sex assault victim's immigration status


HOUSTON – The Harris County District Attorney's Office fired an assistant district attorney Friday after he questioned the immigration status of a sexual assault victim. 

The termination was announced after the prosecutor was reassigned on Monday while the investigation was pending. 

"It is wrong to ask about a victim's immigration status; it is against our policy, and it won't be tolerated," said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. "We treat everyone equally under the law, no matter how they came to be here." 

The prosecutor was identified as John Denholm, who had been with the office since January 2017. He is also a retired Harris County Sheriff's Office lieutenant. 

What happened?

Karl Bonner, 44, was booked at the Joint Processing Center on a charge of driving while intoxicated, where investigators said he tried to sexually assault another inmate.

"That person screams for help, our officer gets in, arrests the suspect for attempting to sexually assault him, and the DA's office won't take charges," HPOU President Joe Gamaldi said.

Denholm "asked the officer whether the complainant was 'illegal,'" according to HPOU.

"(Denholm) then stated that he would not touch that case since the complainant is 'illegal' and declined any charges."

The following business day, another officer presented the case to a different assistant district attorney, who filed a charge of attempted sexual assault against Bonner "after senior prosecutors reviewed video evidence that had not been previously presented," the DA's office statement also said. 

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