Austin-area agencies push to drop lawsuit over sex assault handling


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin, Travis County, the district attorney, members of the Austin Police Department and several others, all pushing back against a class action lawsuit brought against them. 

The trial continues — with the prosecution claiming these people in power have discriminated against victims of sexual assault. 

You might remember the press conference back in June

Three women bravely took to the podium and shared their experiences of being sexually assaulted. 

These victims, all plaintiffs in a 60-page class action lawsuit, claim their cases and those of countless other women in the county, were discriminated against and mishandled. 

On Monday, the attorneys for the city and the district attorney’s office argued to dismiss the lawsuit entirely. 

The defense argued people like the chief of police and D.A. have the right to decide which cases are prosecuted and that they are protected from legal action so they may do their jobs. 

However, the prosecution claims these people need to be held accountable, so the community can feel safe. 

“Most women who come forward do so to protect other women from the same crime. And to the extent that we don’t make those efforts on their behalf, we are not putting the safety of the community as our priority,” said Jennifer Ecklund, a partner for Thompson and Knight L.L.P. which represents the victims of sexual assault. 

The judge did not make a final ruling on Monday. He said a decision wouldn’t come until into the new year. 

Attorneys for the city and county wouldn’t go on camera, but a spokesperson for the city of Austin provided this statement: “We appreciate the court allowing the parties to present the argument in this important case and look forward to the court’s decision in the new year.” 

The District Attorney also offered a statement: “The District Attorney’s Office has no comment on the hearing before Judge Yeakel this morning, other than to thank the Court for its attention to this matter.” 

For the complete backstory on this class action lawsuit, and to hear that emotional testimony from the victims of these sexual assaults, click here.

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