Criminal Justice

Harris County Courthouse

The Harris County Courthouse in Houston. Image from

A Texas prosecutor has been reassigned after a police union alleged that he asked whether an assault victim was “illegal” and then refused to file charges.

The Houston Police Officers Union identified the Harris County prosecutor as John Denholm, report the Washington Post and the Houston Chronicle (here and here).

The union and the League of United Latin American Citizens are calling for Denholm to be fired.

According to the union, police consulted Denholm after a drunken driving suspect at a booking center exposed himself and pulled another arrestee toward him. Police asked about a charge of attempted sexual assault.

Denholm allegedly asked whether the victim was “illegal.” The officer seeking the charge said he didn’t think it mattered, according to the union. Denholm then allegedly asked whether the victim had a driver’s license. Denham was told that the victim only had a Mexican consulate ID card.

Denham allegedly replied that he wouldn’t touch the case, and he did not file charges.

The suspect has since been charged with third-degree attempted sexual assault.

The Harris County district attorney’s office has transferred Denholm to the intake division of the special crime bureau pending the outcome of an investigation.

“Our policy is for prosecutors to consider only relevant information when determining whether criminal charges are warranted,” the DA’s office said in a statement. “It is improper for them to consider such matters as immigration status, race, gender or orientation.”

Denholm had worked for the Harris County sheriff’s office before he left to practice family law. He joined the DA’s office in 2017.

Denholm told the Washington Post in an email that he is “aware of who made the inflammatory allegations” and appeared to suggest that the police account was untrustworthy.