Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City cop who was found guilty of 18 counts of rape and sexual assault, and whose victims were all black women, has been sentenced to 263 years, served consecutively rather than concurrently. It is effectively a life sentence for the 29-year-old former football player.
Women’s rights activists packed the Oklahoma City courtroom in support of the 13 women who came forward to say that Holtzclaw had preyed on them. Prosecutors argued that Holtzclaw targeted ”women he could count on not telling what he was doing,” some of them drug users or with past criminal records, using the power of his badge to terrify them into silence.
It worked until Holtzclaw assaulted an older woman who did not live in the neighborhood he had targeted and who had no reservations about alerting the police.
The same woman spoke at Thursday’s sentencing hearing, according to The Oklahoman, as did Holtzclaw’s youngest victim, who was 17 at the time of the assault. Holtzclaw was convicted of raping that young woman on her mother’s porch, confirmed by DNA evidence.
Many activists feared that an all-white jury would not convict a police officer of assaulting black women, particularly in light of the defense’s strategy of questioning their credibility.
“The tendency is not to believe black women,” Grace Franklin, an activist with Oklahoma City Artists for Justice, said in a press conference after Holtzclaw was convicted. Prosecutors during the trial said Holtzclaw primarily attacked women with criminal records and drug habits, as they put it.
On Wednesday, one day before the scheduled hearing, Holtzclaw’s attorney filed a request seeking a new trial, citing a Facebook post he alleged showed evidence had been withheld. That request was denied. His attorney told the Associated Press that Holtzclaw will appeal.
“I think people need to realize that this is not a law-enforcement officer that committed these crimes. This is a rapist who masqueraded as a law-enforcement officer,” District Attorney Scott Prater said, according to the Associated Press. “If he was a true law enforcement officer he would have upheld his duty to protect those citizens rather than victimize them.”