Ex-Oklahoma cop’s rape conviction symbol of national problem

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cop Used Whiteness as His Weapon to Rape Black Women.

A former Oklahoma City cop thought his badge and his race would protect him as he sexually assaulted woman after woman. Months after he was fired from the Oklahoma City police force, Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of four counts of first-degree rape and numerous other sexual offenses against eight victims.Most networks didn’t cover it live, which was a disappointment, but for people who are passionate about justice or women’s rights this case was everything to us.OKLAHOMA CITY – The teenager’s mother clapped her hands and screamed with joy as she watched an Oklahoma City jury convict a former police officer of raping her daughter and sexually assaulting seven other women.

The mother of Daniel Holtzclaw’s youngest accuser said she hopes his guilty verdict will show everyone that sexual misconduct by police officers has to be taken seriously. Technically, Holtzclaw is biracial: born to a white veteran police officer and a Japanese mother—but, make no mistake, Holtzclaw claimed to be white and used it as a weapon against his black victims. Holtzclaw was convicted Thursday night of preying on the teenager and other women he met while working his beat in a minority, low-income neighborhood. He could spend the rest of his life in prison based on the jury’s recommendation that he serve a total of 263 years, including a 30-year sentence on each of four first-degree rape convictions. Advocates hope that the conviction will encourage other women who have been subject to similar abuses in other communities to come forward and seek justice.

The only three African American jurors were struck from the jury during the selection process and Holtzclaw, who is white, ended up receiving an all-white jury. Holtzclaw’s case was among those examined in a yearlong Associated Press investigation that revealed about 1,000 officers nationwide had lost their licenses for sex crimes or other sexual misconduct over a six-year period. I was fully convinced that NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was going to be convicted for killing Eric Garner — but that case didn’t even make it to trial. The AP’s finding is undoubtedly an undercount, since not every state has a process for banning problem officers from re-entering law enforcement, and states that do vary greatly in how they report and prosecute wrongdoers. In each of those cases, and hundreds more like them, the law seemed to bend over backwards to protect people who killed unarmed African-Americans and in each of those cases, the crushing disappointment when no semblance of justice came, was deep and real.

One factor stands out, however — victims tend to be among society’s most vulnerable: juveniles, drug addicts, and women in custody or with a criminal history. His case brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct committed by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years. The fact that this jury was able to sort through the physical evidence and direct witness testimony to return guilty verdicts on 18 counts is an indication of measurable progress. Holtzclaw’s father — a police officer in Enid, about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City — his mother and sister were in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

In an Associated Press report on the astounding volume of sex crimes committed by American police officers, one consistent theme in almost all of the cases was that officers were rarely held accountable to the full extent of the law. Seven armed deputies were stationed around the room. “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. The jury recommended 263 years of prison time for the 29-year-old former college football player.” Holtzclaw, a native of Enid, Okla., played linebacker at Eastern Michigan University and was invited to rookie camp by the Detroit Lions in 2009. She pushed back, telling the lawyer: “I’m really getting upset by the way you’re coming after me.” Several of Holtzclaw’s accusers had been arrested or convicted of crimes, and his attorney made this a cornerstone of his defense. Despite other accusers who previously stepped from the shadows, it wasn’t until a grandmother went to police the night she was assaulted that the wheels of justice began to turn.

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. Adams questioned several women at length about whether they were high at the time, and noted that most didn’t come forward until investigators identified them as possible victims. It’s sad, though, that justice like this is so rare, so fleeting, that when one single officer who wrecked the lives of 13 women is found guilty, it feels like a breakthrough. My greatest hope, beyond so badly wanting these victims to heal and recover from what happened to them, is that police officers across the country will see that abusing their power can indeed have dire consequences. Despite his mixed racial heritage, he bought into and used that sense of supremacy to sexually violate his victims and the oath he swore to serve and protect them.

The mother said she believes the type of police crime brought to light by the Holtzclaw case “isn’t just a problem in Oklahoma — it’s a problem for the nation.”

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