The recent Star-Telegram news series "Rape Unpunished" attempted to leave the impression that sexual assaults are not taken seriously by Tarrant County prosecutors. A balanced and objective article would have demonstrated just the contrary.The men and women of police departments and the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office are dedicated to the enforcement of all criminal laws, including those regarding sexual assault.The district attorney's office originally was asked for information dealing with all "acquaintance rapes" for the period 2008 through March 2012. No such definition exists in the Texas Penal Code, and statistics are not kept with that label. The district attorney's office provided information dealing with all sexual assault cases filed by our office during that time period. Offense reports for the disposed cases were also made available.Rather than examine the contents of the reports, the reporter dealt only with the number of sexual assault cases in which the grand jury returned no indictment. It appeared that he made no attempt to look beneath the raw numbers to determine a reason for the lack of indictment.Our office also provided access to the offense reports for the cases that were indicted. Those showed that during the requested four-year time period, more than 200 sexual assault cases were prosecuted. Judges and juries assessed sentences totaling 1,256 years of imprisonment in those cases. In addition, eight life sentences were imposed.The number of cases prosecuted, plus the sentences assessed, hardly justifies a headline of "Rape Unpunished." Such an inflammatory statement is clearly wrong.Sexual assaults are felonies and must be brought to court by means of a grand jury indictment. A grand jury is a completely independent body. By law, all proceedings before the grand jury are secret.Witnesses, including victims, often are called to testify. Summaries of police investigations are given to the grand jurors. Contrary to the assertion in the first article, defense attorneys often make presentations.The grand jury has the power to subpoena witnesses, including police officers and experts. Every effort is made to present all relevant evidence.During deliberations and voting, neither the district attorney nor prosecutors are present. If nine grand jurors vote for an indictment, it is returned as a "True Bill." If fewer than nine members vote to indict, a "No Bill" is recorded.The series quoted a Washington lawyer who said that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a "ham sandwich" just by telling them to do so. That statement is utter nonsense and an erroneous assumption presupposing that the district attorney is in total control of the grand jury's actions.Such a representation does a disservice to the 96 men and women who annually serve as grand jurors. They take their job seriously, and each gives three months of their time to provide a valuable safeguard for the rights of both the victim and the defendant.In my almost 50 years of law practice, I have yet to find a grand jury that would do whatever the district attorney asked.Police are engaged in suspect apprehension, while prosecutors are engaged in prosecution. The standard of proof is higher to convict than to arrest. Someone can be arrested on a determination that probable cause exists to believe a crime has been committed. Conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.We are all on the same team. Both police officers and prosecutors want our community to be safe.The 164 lawyers of the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office will continue to vigorously prosecute sex offenders. It is our sincere hope that the underlying premise of this series -- which falsely suggests that little is being done to protect victims of sex crimes -- will not discourage victims from coming forward.Joe Shannon Jr. is Tarrant County district attorney.