Felony charge dismissed against ex-SA River Authority supervisor after he completes pretrial diversion

2018 incident revealed “culture of racism” within agency

Alfred Rakowitz. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A felony aggravated assault charge against a former supervisor with the San Antonio River Authority was dismissed last month after the man completed a pretrial diversion program, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office confirmed.

Alfred Rakowitz was indicted by a Bexar County grand jury last year after being accused of throwing a PVC pipe from a second-story loft in November 2018, hitting a co-worker in the face as he stood below.

The victim, whom KSAT 12 is not naming, was forced to undergo surgery to put his nasal septum back in place.

A Bexar County Sheriff’s Office incident report indicates that the victim suffered permanent disfigurement and serious bodily injury.

Ex-SA River authority supervisor accused of ‘permanently disfiguring’ employee arrested

Court records show the felony charge was dismissed Dec. 11.

Officials with the DA’s office declined to discuss the diversion requirements met by Rakowitz prior to the dismissal, citing a state law that allows them to withhold that information.

Rakowitz resigned less than a week after the incident, shortly before he was scheduled to be terminated, personnel records show.

The violent incident brought to the surface what SARA officials described as a “culture of racism” within its utilities department, where Rakowitz and the victim both worked.

“We’ve had some instances of not treating people with the respect they deserve, both professionally and racially, and we can’t stand it. It’s a sad day, it’s a hard day, but it’s kind of a line in the sand day,” said then-San Antonio River Authority director of operations John Chisholm on audio later leaked to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Chisholm himself resigned late last year after an investigation determined that he failed to report a possibly racially charged act for eight months.

SA River Authority executive ousted after sitting on racism complaint for 8 months

Last January, two months after SARA employees took part in sensitivity training, two utilities department employees came forward to say a co-worker had twisted a small piece of rope into a noose and then hung it on a nail outside a shop.

The employees who found the rope were described as being upset by the incident, according to internal SARA records.

The employee who twisted the rope later told management he had no malicious intent and apologized to his two co-workers, according to records.

Although Chisholm was briefed on the incident and how it was ultimately resolved, he failed to report it to SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott or the agency’s human resources department, records show.

Late last month, an employee mentioned the incident during his exit interview, leading officials to open an investigation into whether it was properly reported when it first happened.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.