Officer guilty of raping black women ‘picked the wrong lady’

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘I kept begging him, “Sir, don’t make me do this”‘: Victim who blew the whistle on convicted rapist cop reveals how he abused his power while patrolling her neighborhood.

A “serial rapist with a badge” who faces many years in prison for raping black women on his police beat was caught because of the courage of a grandmother who refused to remain silent after he sexually assaulted her, her lawyer said Friday. “He just picked the wrong lady to stop that night,” said Jannie Ligons, whose complaint triggered the investigation that led to charges former Eastern Michigan University football player Daniel Holtzclaw victimized 13 women as an Oklahoma City Police officer. “I wanted to make sure this wouldn’t happen again, no way no how.” Holtzclaw’s conviction on charges including rape and sexual battery should send a strong message nationwide, said attorney Benjamin Crump, who plans to sue the city for civil damages. Holtzclaw, who broke out in tears Thursday night as the guilty verdicts were read aloud, has a detention officer or deputy sitting outside his jail cell, officials told local television station KFDR. “The only thing I could see was my life flashing before my eyes and the gun in his holster on his right side,” Ligons said at a press conference where other victims spoke. “As I tried to look up at his name, I was afraid to because, I said, ‘If I know his name, I know he’s going to kill me.’ So that I didn’t do.”

Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy Henderson declined to elaborate on the nature of the jurors’ questions while deliberations continue, but said such questions are not unusual. Most victims never report sexual assaults, and those who accused ex-officer Daniel Holtzclaw were even more vulnerable as poor black women, many with checkered histories of crime and addiction. Henderson spent more than an hour on Monday giving jurors instructions on the 36 counts against former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw that include rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and indecent exposure. It mattered just as if this were a group of 13 white women.” Jurors found Holtzclaw, who turned 29 on Thursday, guilty of 18 counts involving eight of the women.

The charges involve 13 women who accuse the officer of sexually victimizing them in the low-income neighborhoods he patrolled on the city’s northeast side. 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.

Ligons, a daycare worker in her 50s who was pulled over while driving home from a night with friends, said she knew she had done nothing wrong when Holtzclaw assaulted her. ‘He did things to me that I didn’t think a police officer would do,’ said Ligons, flanked by her family and African-American activists outside the courthouse. During his four years, he was also a standout football player, earning Freshman All-American honors and finishing second on the all-time tackles list for the school. Prosecutors said Holtzclaw preyed on women who had trouble with the law, thinking that their word would not stand up against his, adding he became more brazen with each attack. Another victim, Shardarion Hill, said she went into survival mode with Holtzclaw and was forced into doing ‘what the man with the badge and gun wanted’. ‘Society tends not to believe black women or value them as other women are,’ said Artist for Justice founder Grace Franklin, who stood in support of the 13 women. Investigators found other victims through records of the background checks Holtzclaw had requested, corroborated their claims through the GPS locator in his squad car.

Though prosecutors assembled a damning case with GPS pinpoints, records of computer background checks and other evidence, some worried the all-white jury might doubt the testimony of his victims, all of whom are black. Holtzclaw’s case was examined as part of 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. 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. 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. The women assaulted by Holtzclaw were all linked by their potential vulnerability to abuse by police officers and mirrored trends identified in the AP investigation.

The jury did not convict on Hill’s allegations, and her father, Tyral Muhammad, said Holtzclaw’s supervisors and others should have caught him sooner. “We are not being rocked to sleep because of this verdict,” Muhammad said. “We want more black officers patrolling the northeast side of town.” Most rapes go unpunished in America, and sex crime convictions are even more unlikely when law enforcement officers are accused, said Kimberly Lonsway, a research director at End Violence Against Women International. Just one-third of all rapes and sexual assaults were reported to police in 2014, lower than any other category of crime, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Defense attorney Scott Adams, who declined to comment, sought to use the criminal backgrounds of some of the victims to cast doubt on their testimony. He 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. Sheri Dickerson, an associate minister at Expressions Community Church who supported the officer’s victims, said in a phone interview with Reuters. “A lot of people were literally able to inhale and breathe for the first time since this all started,” she added. The AP does not identify victims of sex crimes without their consent and is not using the mother’s name, but is using Ligon’s name because she spoke publicly.

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