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Grabbing someone's buttocks in Texas is only a misdemeanor

While investigating similar issues here in San Antonio, we found that the crimes often go unpunished because it all depends on the body part that was touched.

The accusations against Harvey Weinstein are igniting a debate about how common these crimes can be. While investigating similar issues here, we found that the crimes often go unpunished because it all depends on the body part that was touched.

In Texas, grabbing someone's buttocks has the same penalty as a traffic ticket -- a fine up to $500 without jail time. It's rare that a case goes before a judge.

"I think the primary problem with prosecution is the victim’s unwillingness due to the publicity associated with it, the embarrassment," said Bobby Barrera, former president of the San Antonio Bar Association.

He says touching of the breast, anus or genital organs could result in you being charged with indecency by contact -- a felony offense. But grabbing the buttocks is a Class C misdemeanor.

State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) says there is a wide gap in the law. He filed a bill earlier in the year to increase penalties for groping after a victim reached out to him.

"The immediate reaction she had was there's no possible way you can't arrest someone for doing that," Moody said. "He knew exactly what he could get away with and what he couldn't get away with, and that's why he conducted himself this way."

The bill failed, largely as a result of the bathroom bill debate, Moody said, but he plans to pursue the bill in 2019.

Barrera said not enough people know that the word of the victim is enough to prosecute.

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