Firefighters union accuses Travis County DA of mishandling sex assault cases
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The Austin Firefighters Association president says Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore needs to do more to bring sex crime perpetrators to justice…in particular for his own firefighter Kelly Gall, who was recorded while changing in the women's locker room.
“When she went to meet with Moore and her staff, she felt like she was victim shamed. She felt like she was being scolded and even yelled at, to try to back her down from wanting to pursue something more aggressive,” said Bob Nicks, union president.
Nicks says not only has he heard frustration from his own firefighter, but also other women in Travis County.
“When I had numerous women come to us at the courtroom steps when we were there to support Kelly Gall, I realized this situation was much bigger than Kelly,” said Nicks.
Former firefighter, James Baker, pleaded guilty and received five-years of probation, and surrendered his credentials.
“Margaret will claim he had to give up his license, but he's at the end of his career it's not a big deal,” said Nicks.
Fox 7 Austin spoke with Moore who denies the allegations of mistreatment and misconduct by her office.
“If he successfully completes his probation he has the opportunity to get an order of non-disclosure, it is not an expunction. That order of non- disclosure means certain people would not have access to his record. But an extensive array of employers would have access to that record so it would follow him the rest of his life,” said Moore.
The district attorney says the public is getting the wrong story and feels the punishment for baker is sufficient.
“A prosecutor's duty is to seek justice, not to seek the revenge of a particular person or succumb to political pressure. He lost his career, he is now listed in records as having pleaded guilty to a felony. If he fails to comply with conditions of probation he will suffer revocation and serve time in a state jail,” said Moore.
Moore says the office has been successful in bringing these cases to a jury. However, she says she is still dealing with harassment from the union.
“I'm frankly a bit appalled at the lengths they are going to punish me for doing my job. I was told I would suffer political repercussions because I did not change that recommendation in accordance to their wishes, and they are delivering on that,” said Moore.
Nicks says ultimately what he wants is for the survivors of sexual assault to feel emboldened to come forward, and that is something both parties can agree on.
“I think this is very important that this becomes a primary discussion during this election period,” said Nicks.
He says the AFA plans on hiring legal professionals to analyze the statistics of a successful prosecution record brought forth by the DA’s office, pertaining to sex assault cases.
“All of this negative, false information only discourages the most vulnerable people in our community seeking justice, and I hate that,” said Moore.