Allegation: Houston Rodeo pushed back on sharing crime records

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Houston Rodeo

The Houston Rodeo, the largest in the world, and one that attracts nearly all of the business and political glitterati of Texas, is avoiding sharing crime records from its events, according to an investigative consultant probing a rape case in which the Rodeo is a defendant.

Records suggest that the Rodeo does not track crimes that take place at the world-famous event. In a records request, the Rodeo said it had no records showing crimes for its event. It said, rather that the Houston Police track crimes that take place at NRG Stadium, where the Rodeo draws more than two million attendees in February and March. 

That raises questions for former ABC13-KTRK investigative reporter, Wayne Dolcefino.

“There is no crime at the rodeo,” he said after looking at the records. “Do you really believe that? We were asked to investigate, and using the Texas Public Information Act, we wanted to see if any sex crimes unfolded at this year’s Rodeo… We didn’t just ask for that. We asked the Houston Police, Harris County Sheriff and the Precinct One Constable to give us any reports, or any incident, crime or arrests during the 23-day Rodeo at NRG Stadium.”

He added: “We expected hundreds of reports. After all, people drink, sometimes they fight, and lots of cars make appetizing theft targets. Even a purse snatching — anything. Now for the mystery: You know how many law enforcement incident reports we got? Zero. Not a single report of crime.”

That is in contrast to what the Rodeo states.

“There were criminal incident reports and arrests made by the Houston Police Department during the 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “The Rodeo does not receive copies of police reports.”

Dolcefino pushed back on that statement.

“The Rodeo spends millions of dollars on security according to its tax return,” he said. “It would seem that they would very quickly know about crime at the Rodeo. I don’t care where the documents are. But I don’t buy the theory that there aren’t any. The Rodeo says there are documents. The cops say there are not. The sheriff says there are not.”

Dolcefino asked for the records seeking information related to sexual assault cases at the Rodeo.

He is probing a rape that occurred during the Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride in 2012, which has long been associated with the Houston Rodeo. It is one of 13 trail rides that form to travel to join the Rodeo every year.

He is looking into this matter on behalf of the attorney representing the rape victim.

A Rodeo spokeswoman said in a statement that there was no connection with the Rodeo and the trail ride.

“The Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride is a separate entity from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with its own events, rules, and regulations, and the incident in question was not related to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo,” she said.

According to court records, the rape happened when the woman was drunk.

While passed out, it appears she was raped in her boyfriend’s brother’s truck, according to court records.

From the court document:

“While she was passed out, Plaintiff alleges that she was raped by Alvin Wesley Prine…

Prine was arrested on sexual assault charges and after a trial by jury in Liberty County he was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was somehow affiliated with the event hosted by Los Vaqueros, which Defendant denies.”

The Rodeo said it believes Dolcefino is attempting to obtain information through his open records requests that the plaintiff  “would not be entitled to obtain through the normal course of discovery and use such information in the instant lawsuit to create negative publicity in an effort to prejudice” said the Rodeo.

“The Los Vaqueros Trail Ride was absent from the Rodeo this year,” Dolcefino said. “None of the media covered it. It’s one of the oldest trail rides in the Rodeo, the first Hispanic trail ride in the Rodeo. It starts at the border. There’s a lot of history behind Los Vaqueros. They were gone this year. The Rodeo doesn’t mention that.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

9 COMMENTS

  1. It doesn’t make any sense for the Rodeo to create reports on crimes since they are not a law enforcement agency. People that are victims of crimes don’t create reports either. Reporting on crimes is a law enforcement function. If there were crimes occurring on a trail ride the reports would have been created by law enforcement in the county where the crime occurred such as the sexual assault in Liberty County.

  2. I usually enjoy reading the Texas Monitor, but I’m not sure I understand why the rodeo should be expected to keep crime records. HPD has crime reports, but just may not classify them as rodeo crimes.

    Also, a crime that happened on a trail ride is hardly the fault of the rodeo.

    I’m not defending the rodeo. I never go and I’m no fan of it and the way the money is used, but that doesn’t have an impact on their responsibility for this.

  3. Did the crime happen on Rodeo property during the rodeo? I’m confused how the rodeo could be held responsible for this crime?? Sounds like Rodeo Houston is the cash cow there trying to get money from? Why not go after the trail ride association? No money?

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