After 45 hours of deliberation, jurors in a sex crimes trial convicted former Oklahoma City police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, on several of the most serious charges filed against him, including rape and forcible oral sodomy. Out of a total of 36 charges filed against him, Holtzclaw was found guilty Thursday of 18 charges, including four counts of rape, and faces more than 200 years in prison, CBS News reported.
All of the witnesses who accused the former police officer of misconduct were black, and court documents described Holtzclaw as an Asian or Pacific Islander. All members of the jury that convicted Holtzclaw were white.
— Lacie Lowry (@LacieLowry) December 11, 2015
Holtzclaw was arrested after a woman in her late 50s notified police that an officer had assaulted her, CBS News reported. Thirteen people, including a 17-year-old, ended up accusing Holtzclaw of misconduct. His crimes occurred over a seven-month timespan in 2013 and 2014 while he worked the 4 p.m.-to-2 a.m. patrol shift. Detectives arrested Holtzclaw on June 18, 2014. He was fired from the police force in January.
Throughout his trial, Holtzclaw, who turned 29 Thursday, did not contest that he had encountered the women, but maintained his innocence, the Guardian reported. He had a dedicated following of supporters online, who used the hashtag #FreeTheClaw. In an attempt to undermine his victims’ credibility, his attorney, Scott Adams, questioned Holtzclaws’ accusers on their marijuana use, drinking, thefts and suspended driver’s licenses. Prosecutors alleged that Holtsclaw had preyed on women in one of Oklahoma’s poorest neighborhoods, and that he had used his authority as a police officer during traffic stops to commit crimes from groping to rape.
— Graham Lee Brewer (@grahambrewer) December 11, 2015
“These cases are so difficult to prosecute because the defense attorneys go after the victims’ credibility in court,” said Diane Wetendorf, who runs a counseling group in Chicago for women who are victims of police abuse, the Guardian reported. “In my experience working with victims of police abuse, officers do target vulnerable women, particularly drug addicts, alcoholics and prostitutes. “They are confident that ‘no one will believe’ these victims. Where women of color are available as targets, they are even easier prey.”
Holtzclaw’s formal sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 21.