HOUSTON, Texas — State senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released a television ad accusing her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, of not acting when allegations of sexual abuse came to his office in 2007. But fact-checker PolitiFact recently looked into the allegations and determined that they are “mostly false.”
“Young boys at a state-run school are sexually abused,” a narrator says over dark music. “When a local investigation lags, a Texas Ranger notifies Attorney General Greg Abbott, asking him to investigate. Abbott does nothing…[he] didn’t pursue the case.”
According to PolitiFact, Davis and her campaign subsequently referenced several news stories about a Texas Ranger attempting to ask the attorney general to look into the allegations, which occurred at the Pyote-based Texas State School.
What Politifact found tells a different story than Davis’ ominous ad would like people to believe.
Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski reportedly emailed Will Tatum, an assistant attorney general, in 2006 detailing alleged sexual abuse of minors at the male school. Records released by Abbott’s office in 2007 state that Ranger’s email expressed concern that the local prosecutor had done nothing to look into the allegations.
Tatum originally would not pursue the case since the Attorney General was not legally able to get involved until the local prosecutor asked for assistance. For Abbott’s agency to have jurisdiction, the local district attorney would have to request its help.
Eventually, in 2007, the local district attorney did seek assistance from Abbott’s office; as soon as that happened, the case was “quickly taken over” by Abbott, according to the Associated Press.
In April 2007, a grand jury indicted two suspects for sexually assaulting six minors at the boy’s school. PolitiFact reported that Abbott said at the time, “With today’s indictments, the victims of sexual abuse at West Texas State School are a step closer to the justice they deserve.”
Breibart Texas obtained a statement from Abbott’s Communications Director, Matt Hirsch, that said, “Sen. Davis can distort the facts in her ads, but no amount of distortion can cover her despicable practice of repeatedly using public office to personally profit…Texans deserve a candidate who puts public service before personal profit, and Sen. Davis’ behavior is unworthy of a candidate for Texas Governor.”
Ultimately, after looking closely at Davis’ claims, PolitiFact determined that allegations in the state senator’s ad are simply untrue.
The fact checker wrote that “state attorneys overseen by Abbott steered a grand-jury presentation leading to indictments. We rate [Davis’] claim[s] Mostly False.”
Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate.