Kenneth Valdez, a former member of San Antonio's Special Victims Unit, is being charged with evidence tampering following a review of more than 130 cases.
In November 2017, the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) released the results of a 6-month internal affairs investigation into Valdez. Per the investigation, Valdez did not submit DNA evidence for testing in 27 sex-crime cases from August 2016 and August 2017. Texas law requires DNA evidence to be submitted for testing within 30 days. Other kinds of evidence, such as cell phones and recordings, were found in Valdez's office without labels or other identifying markings. Valdez also ignored information from the Bexar County Crime Lab. In at least one case, he ignored evidence that pointed to a specific suspect.
The investigation found mishandling in the 17-year veteran's caseload dating back to 2013. It also determined that Valdez alone was responsible for not following up on evidence and for prematurely closing cases. City Manager Sheryl Sculley announced his termination the same month the investigation was closed.
At the time, Valdez blamed his actions on a high caseload and poor organizational skills. But the charges against him suggest that Valdez was not just careless but deceptive. His arrest warrant details at least eight counts of making false entries in the SAPD system or concealing evidence between January 2016 and August 2017. An arraignment scheduled for last Friday was postponed when the court decided he was not given sufficient time to appear.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 13 percent of sexual assault victims who chose not to report did so believing that the police would not help them.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.