The first story I ever wrote for Big Jolly involved rape kits and a serial rapist named Wesley Bernard Gordon. Wesley Bernard Gordon was sentenced to life in prison on September 19, 2013, for aggravated sexual assault of a victim 65 or older. Thank you, Assistant District Attorney Beth Exley.
Wesley Gordon was one of the most dangerous criminals we have seen on our streets in some time. The manhunt for Wesley was intensive and, again, we in our community have no idea of the great work of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force. Wesley was identified as a serial rapist but he was really a serial killer as Gordon was rumored to have several infectious diseases; however, I will leave that to reporters who do this for a living. At trial, the only surviving victim testified against Gordon.
Until last year, this elderly victim’s sexual assault kit remained in the Houston Police Department Property Room – untested. My follow up story documented the problems of the HPD crime lab. To this day, we do not know if all of Gordon’s victims have been identified. Have all of the HPD rape kits been tested? The HPD controlled crime lab was supposed to release a report on the untested rape kits that were sent out-of-state for testing. The release of this information has been delayed – shock, I tell you. I am sure that the Parker administration and HPD smells trouble. And, yes, trouble is coming. Trouble always comes with the HPD crime Lab, which has a 20-plus year history of malfeasance and lawsuits. Annise Parker certainly doesn’t want to raise this issue prior to the election.
The truth is that, because of a turf war, we have unidentified sex offenders walking the city streets. Chief Bradford, former Houston Police Chief says it best: “If I, as the Police Chief, am standing behind a scientist conducting DNA analysis, and I cannot tell whether they are doing it correctly, we do not need to be in this business.” For years, the HPD crime lab has been sued for their errors, including gross negligence. This is no easy feat for a lawyer because the City has sovereign immunity. Barry Scheck and his client, Mr. Rodriguez, can explain this to you. David Feldman fought the judgment through appeals for years and finally settled. I argue this is just the tip of a very big iceberg. The problem is further explained by the case of Ricardo Rachelle.
The place to solve these issues is the ballot box and the HPD crime lab is just like the pension problem. It is a turf battle and it is time for the city of Houston to exit the crime lab business. In the county, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences makes certain that all evidence is tested in a state of the art facility.
Unbelievably, the city will soon ask the voters to build a new facility, including a new crime lab. This will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. This new crime lab will simply be an attempt to duplicate the efforts of the Institute for Forensic Science. Make no mistake – there are no untested rape kits, lawsuits, malfeasance, large judgments, or contingent liability with the county’s Institute for Forensic Sciences. More importantly, the City of Houston has no money and is billions of dollars in debt. Now is not the time for the city to form a shell corporation to manage forensic science in the city. You really cannot make this up – the Mayor needs to stop playing games.