Ex-Oklahoma cop Daniel Holtzclaw is facing life in prison after allegedly raping 13 different women while on duty. The jury has been deliberating on Holtzclaw’s case since Monday night and continued through Tuesday. Convicting the ex-cop may not be easy, because the victims he selected to sexually assault are also facing criminal charges.
According to the Huffington Post, 26-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw is facing 36 counts of sexual assault, all of which include first-degree rape charges for 13 different women. When the judge read these charges, Holtzclaw was seen crying in the courtroom.
But the credibility of his victims is in question, which was seemingly part of Daniel Holtzclaw’s plan when targeting the women for rape. Prosecutors argued that Holtzclaw used his power as a police officer to single out women he met on duty and run background checks. This way he could determine which of them were carrying drugs or drug paraphernalia, had previous arrest records or outstanding warrants. The plan, according to Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger, was to ensure that if any of his rape victims came forward with accusations, nobody would trust them due to their criminal status.
“He exercised authority on those society doesn’t care about. Convince these ladies that someone does care about them.”
And, sure enough, one of the women who testified against Daniel Holtzclaw had to do so in shackles and an orange jumpsuit because she herself was facing drug charges. She and other victims claimed that Daniel Holtzclaw would target women he found walking alone and look for any evidence of criminal activity. Those with tarnished records would be forced to have sex with Holtzclaw under threats of arrest.
The sexual abuse committed by the ex-cop took place in several locations across a seven-month period. One victim claimed Daniel Holtzclaw handcuffed her to a hospital bed and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Another victims was driven to an abandoned building and raped, only after Daniel Holtzclaw learned she had multiple arrest warrants out for her.
“What kind of police do you call on the police?” said another victim, who was allegedly raped by the officer at the age of 17.
It appeared that Daniel Holtzclaw’s tactic of only raping women with criminal records worked, at least for awhile. One of his victims told the jury that she didn’t come forward about the sexual assault because she knew she had “never been on the right side of the law.”
According to CBS News, Daniel Holtzclaw was relying on the guilt and vulnerability of his victims, assuming he could threaten them into staying quiet about the sexual assault.
“Officer Holtzclaw counted on that,” said Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell. “Officer Holtzclaw is heady from these powers. He gets even bolder. What he starts doing is taking whatever he wants.”
Daniel Holtzclaw was finally caught after a 57-year-old victim reported the abuse to the local police.
Grace Franklin, co-founder of OKC Artists For Justice, has been working to support the host of victims, knowing that they can do little to help themselves. She claimed that Daniel Holtzclaw specifically chose them, “because they’re black women, they’re poor women.”
Salamishah Tillet, the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, agreed with Franklin’s sentiment.
“You have the most vulnerable population experiencing an intersection of violence here, and it’s not surprising that they remain invisible in a lot of ways.”
Daniel Holtclaw’s plan continued on through his trial, as well. His defense attorney did not hesitate to utilize the ex-cop’s fail-safe, persistently bringing up the criminal records of the women and attempting to diminish their credibility.
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[Daniel Holtzclaw photos via AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File]