Oklahoma City officer Daniel Holtzclaw guilty rape
Photo: Associated Press

Daniel Holtzclaw Convicted On 18 Counts Of Rape

Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer who preyed on 13 black women in a low-income neighborhood by raping and sexually assaulting them, was convicted by an all-white jury on Thursday (his 29th birthday) and now faces life in prison.

It took a jury 45 hours over the course of four days to return a guilty verdict on 18 of 36 counts of first-degree rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, stalking, forcible oral sodomy and burglary. He was also convicted of forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition and second-degree rape.

Holtzclaw sobbed as the verdict was read aloud.

The jury recommended that he serve a total of 263 years, including a 30-year sentence on each of four first-degree rape convictions.

Via ABC News:

“Justice was done today, and a criminal wearing a uniform is going to prison now,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said. “In those counts where the not guilty verdicts came back, they determined that we didn’t prove those cases beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t mean they didn’t believe the victims.”

The lead detective in the case, Kim Davis, said after the verdict: “I feel horrible for his family. It’s brutal, but I think justice was served.”

The allegations against Holtzclaw brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct committed by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years.

During a monthlong trial, jurors heard from 13 women who said Holtzclaw sexually victimized them. Most of them said Holtzclaw stopped them while out on patrol, searched them for outstanding warrants or checked to see if they were carrying drug paraphernalia, then forced himself on them.

Holtzclaw’s attorney, meanwhile, described him as a model police officer whose attempts to help the drug addicts and prostitutes he came in contact with were distorted.

Among the eight women Holtzclaw was convicted of attacking was a grandmother in her 50s, who launched the police investigation and who was in the courtroom Thursday. She said she was driving home after 2 a.m. when Holtzclaw pulled her over. He first asked her if she had been drinking, then ordered her out of the car and into the backseat of his squad car. He then stood over her and ordered her to perform oral sex.

The woman was tearful after the verdict and prayed with supporters outside the courtroom.

She was the first victim to testify. The last was a teenager who was 17 when Holtzclaw attacked her. Holtzclaw was convicted of three charges related to her case: first-degree rape, second-degree rape and sexual battery.

The 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 grabbed her breasts, then pulled down her shorts before forcing them off and raping her.

Despite the number of victims, the case presented prosecutors with several challenges.

Many of the women had arrest records or histories of drug abuse. Holtzclaw’s attorney made those issues a cornerstone of his defense strategy. Adams questioned several women at length about whether they were high when they allegedly encountered Holtzclaw. He also pointed out that most did not come forward until police identified them as possible victims after launching their investigation.

Ultimately, that approach did not sway the jury to dismiss all the women’s stories.

Holtzclaw was convicted of one of two charges related to a woman who testified he gave her a ride home, then followed her into her bedroom where he forced himself on her and raped her, telling her, “This is better than county jail.”

That woman testified in orange scrubs and handcuffs because she had been jailed on drug charges hours before appearing in court. But the jury still convicted Holtzclaw of forcible oral sodomy in her case.

All of the accusers were black. Holtzclaw is half-white, half-Japanese. The jury appeared to all be white, though Oklahoma court officials said they did not have race information for jurors. Some supporters of the women questioned whether the jury would fairly judge their allegations.

Daniel Holtzclaw will be sentenced on January 21.

See video and reactions to the verdict on page 2.