General Counsel for Houston Rodeo accused of sending explicit images to minor, bond set at $50,000

A Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo staff member has been arrested and charged with crimes related to explicit activity with a minor.

Jeffrey Neil Downing, 45, is the General Counsel for the RodeoHouston. According to Harris County Constable Alan Rosen, he was charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor.

"This is just another example of somebody who is educated and comes from a good family and obviously has a problem," said Rosen.

According to Constable Rosen, in April 2024, Downing began talking with a Precinct 1 undercover officer who was using the persona of a 15-year-old girl.

Rosen claims in one instance of the investigation, the "minor" was in school and Downing asked the girl to go to the bathroom to take pictures.

Downing was accused of engaging in explicit online communications with a minor, requesting nude images from a minor, and allegedly sending images of his genitals to someone believed to be a minor.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo gave this statement: "We have been informed of the serious allegations against Mr. Downing. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a family-friendly organization with strong moral values that we strive to uphold and instill in every employee. Following our learning of these charges, Mr. Downing has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation."

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Constable Rosen stated in a press briefing, "The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a fine organization, and they contribute so much to our community. This should in no way reflect on them. This happens to be an employee of theirs. You can't monitor the behavior of every employee you have."

The Rodeo also confirmed that Downing had no direct contact with children in his role.

Constables didn’t confirm what platform they used for this sting, but Experts say that apps like Tiktok, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are favorites for predators.

"Really any platform that allows children to communicate with the world is really the breeding ground for predators because they know that's where children are," said Titania Jordan, Chief Parent Officer Bark Technologies.

Bark is technology that allows parents to monitor their kids’ online activity. She says apps parents might not even think about, like Roblox, a gaming app.

"Apps like KIK, a lot of parents haven’t heard of, and it is a cesspool," she said.

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She says her advice to parents is to be open and understanding with your children on this topic. Saying angry responses to mistakes will only encourage kids to keep things to themselves.

"Be a safe place, remain calm and get your head out of the sand. Good kids make bad choices," she said.

Downing is currently booked in the Harris County Jail on a $50,000 bond, and is due in court on Wednesday.