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This Police Officer Serial Raped Black Women -- Why Are We Just Now Hearing About It?

This is the verdict that an all white jury rendered in the case of the ex-Oklahoma City police officer accused of raping and sexually...

Life & Travel

Guilty. 


This is the verdict that an all white jury rendered in the case of the ex-Oklahoma City police officer  accused of raping and sexually assaulting 13 women in the neighborhoods he patrolled while on duty.

All of the women lived in poor neighborhoods.

Most of them had substance abuse problems.

All of them were black women.

After he heard the verdict, Holtzclaw rocked back and forth sobbing. The jurors recommended a jail sentence of 263 years. His formal sentencing is set for January 2016.

He was convicted on his 29th birthday.

The details of Holtzclaw's seven month string of preying upon these women is haunting. He was the real life "boogey man". His victims included a 17-year-old girl, and a grandmother who was walking home from a friend's house.

BuzzFeed documented each woman's testimony, and it's probably the most heartbreaking thing you'll read on the Internet all year.  Holtzclaw would stop the women in his patrol car, while they were walking alone. After searching them for drugs and running their criminal background check to see if they had a record, he would force them into sex, and threaten them with arrest if they didn’t cooperate.

One of the women who accused Holtzclaw of sexual assault, pictured in February 2015. Sue Ogrocki / AP

One woman said that Holtzclaw forced her into oral sodomy while she was in a hospital bed while coming down off of the PCP she took earlier in the day. After the frightening experience, he stalked her. She said that she didn't tell authorities until they approached her about the investigation.

...I didn’t think that no one would believe me. I feel like all police will work together and I was scared.

Another woman said that Holtzclaw forced her into oral sodomy and raped her in the home she shared with her boyfriend. She told her father and boyfriend what happened, but she never told police. According to BuzzFeed, she was scared and relapsing.

I didn’t really know what to do, to be honest with you.

One victim said he raped her behind a school.

Another said he took her to an area in the neighborhood called "Dead Man's Curve," where he gave her two choices: "oral sodomy and rape or jail."

His youngest victim said that she didn't see a point in calling the police after he raped her on her grandmother's porch. She said,

"What kind of police do you call on the police?"

The troubling stories go on, but they are all consistent with each other - they were all afraid to tell authorities.

AP / Sue Ogrocki

During the trial, Holtzclaw's attorney argued that the women's testimonies were not credible. According to The Huffington Post,

Over the month-long trial, Holtzclaw's attorney Scott Adams attacked the credibility of the accusers, questioning why they didn't go to the police initially, and reminding the jury about their criminal records and drug use.

"Each and every one of these people have street smarts like you can't even imagine," Adams said at the start of the trial, referring to the alleged victims. During his closing arguments, he called Holtzclaw an "honorable and ethical police officer" and claimed the witnesses who testified had no interest in the truth.

Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell reminded the court that Hotlzclaw didn't go after housewives, doctors, or schoolteachers in a white suburb. He preyed on women that didn't have the power to demand an arrest or push an investigation.

Despite the lack of media coverage, this victory matters. A predator was placed behind bars, and he will more than likely spend the rest of his life there. Unfortunately, it took 13 women to come forward with their testimonies before Holtzclaw's victims had a voice. Finally, people are seeing that any woman, marginalized or not, deserves justice if she is violated.

 

What's even more troubling about the case is the events that surround it. As Daily Beast writer Goldie Taylor puts it,

Daniel Holtzclaw should be a household name. He should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country. His criminal trial should be featured in the A-blocks of national news broadcasts.

We should be able recognize him on sight. We should be able to number and name the horrendous crimes he committed. Should he ever walk the streets again, he should enjoy not a single moment of anonymity. [...]

In too many newsrooms, a story doesn’t get real attention until a college football team threatens to walk out or thousands take to the streets in protest. Until a bridge or highway gets blocked or a hunger strike takes root in a statehouse, we’ve got other things to do. Unfortunately, we don’t take notice until somebody sets a drugstore on fire or a reporter gets arrested in a fast-food restaurant. For too many of us, the story doesn’t get real attention until we think it could happen to us—until we can see ourselves living the life of the victim.

Hopefully, Hoytzclaw's conviction will be a reminder to all women in this country, no matter what her financial status or race is, that she matters.

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