FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Human trafficking has become the focus of a heated Republican runoff election for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. On Thursday evening, a panel discussion brought the race between Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall front and center.
“It is an important issue we need to address," Fort Bend County Judge KP George said about the discussion.
Days before a heated runoff, George held a panel discussion on human trafficking and called out Nehls for not attending.
“I’m very disappointed. Last-minute, he decided not to join us," George said.
Instead, Lt. Bradley Whichard, who oversees the human trafficking unit, was there. While the hourlong event discussed the issue, the people watching wrote in wanting to question the sheriff on his record.
“Why would you make a commitment to the Litvaks, if you were not planning to pursue that case?” George said while reading a question from the online audience.
“I think we are getting into a political issue there," Whichard said.
Political because Wall features the Litvak family in an ad, saying he didn’t take their daughter’s story seriously. However, Nehls told KHOU it wasn’t his agency who originally investigated.
“Law enforcement agencies in Harris County have investigated human trafficking concerns for the Litvak family and I don’t believe there have ever been charges filed in Harris County,” he said.
The parents called the department because their daughter went to school in Fort Bend County. They chimed in on the forum, saying they weren't happy with his response.
“We did have a detective go visit with Mr. and Mrs. Litvak and request access to her daughter. We have tried numerous times to interview Courtney Litvak, but to no avail,” Nehls said.
He called the timing of the event suspicious, being this close to the election. Nehls spent the day greeting voters.
We tried reaching the Wall campaign and the Litvak family but did not hear back. The runoff is next Tuesday.