A former Oklahoma City police officer who was accused of sexually assaulting eight women while on duty, was found guilty of rape and sexual battery on Thursday, several news outlets reported.
Daniel Holtzclaw, 29 was accused of victimizing 13 black women on his police beat in a minority, low-income neighborhood. An all-white jury convicted him of 18 of the 36 charges he faced involving the assaults. Holtzclaw sobbed as the verdict was read aloud.
The jury deliberated for more than 45 hours over four days before delivering their verdict. The 18 charges on which Holtzclaw was convicted include four counts of first-degree rape which carry a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
During the trial, a total of 13 women testified that Holtzclaw sexually assaulted them. The allegations against him brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct committed by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years.
Prosecutors argued that “Holtzclaw systematically targeted black women with prior criminal records and substance abuse problems because he thought they wouldn’t be believed if they reported the assaults.”
The investigation started after a 57-year-old grandmother told police that Holtzclaw forced her to give him oral sex during a traffic stop.
“He exercised authority on those society doesn’t care about,” Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger told jurors during closing arguments on Monday. “Convince these ladies that someone does care about them.”
One of the victims, a teenager, recalled Holtzclaw pulling up in his police car as she walked home one night in June 2014. Holtzclaw drove her home and walked her to her door, where he told her he had to “search her.” She said he then followed her into her bedroom where he forced himself on her, telling her, “this is better than county jail.”
Jurors convicted him on 18 counts involving eight of the 13 women who had accused him; the jury acquitted him on another 18 counts. Sentencing was scheduled for next month.