By Sheryl Estrada
From December 2013 to June 2014,Holtzclaw preyed onBlack women hebelieved to have criminal histories. The women alsoall live in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The prosecution said Holtzclaw chose his victimsbecause they feared the police and reasoned they wouldn’t report the crime. And even if they did, no one would believe their allegations.
“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,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said after the sentencing. “If he was a true law enforcement officer he would have upheld his duty to protect those citizens rather than victimize them.”
Thirteen Black women, including a teenager and woman in her 50s, testified against Holtzclaw, 29, during a trial thatbegan onNov. 2, which wascriticized for having an all white-jury. Women said after the cop stopped them while he was on patrol, under the false pretense of checking foroutstanding warrants or drugs,he sexually assaulted them. Holtzclaw evensexually assaulted a woman while she was in a hospital room. The disgraceful copalso threatened them if they did not comply with his demands.
Holtzclaw’s lawyers argued the victims were not credible, calling them less than “perfect victims,” and said, “These women have street smarts like you can’t imagine.”
The jury didn’t agree, though, as hewas convicted on 18 of 36 counts, including four counts of first-degree rape and four counts of forced oral sodomy on Dec. 10. Holtzclaw (whose father, a longtime Enid, Okla., police officer, is white and mother is Japanese) sobbed uncontrollably when the verdict was read.
Holtzclaw’s oldest victim,57-year-old Jannie Ligons, does not have a criminal record and reported the cop to his peers, which got the investigation started. She spoke at a news conference on Dec. 11:
All I can say is, I was a victim. I was traumatized. I went to therapy. I had a stroke behind this. And I still live with this, day after day. And all I know is, I wasn’t a criminal. I have no record. I didn’t do anything wrong. You said I did something wrong. You said I was swerving, which I was not. You just wanted to stop me. So all I can say is, I was innocent, and he just picked the wrong lady to stop that night.
Three of Holtzclaw’s accusers delivered victim-impact statements on Thursday, and at least one other was in the courtroom, according to The Associated Press:
A woman, who was 17 at the time of the assault, said her “life has been upside down” since Holtzclaw raped her on the front porch of her mother’s home.
“It’s been hard on my family. It’s been hard on me,” she told the court. “Every time I see the police, I don’t even know what to do. I don’t ever go outside, and when I do I’m terrified.”
Thursday’s sentencing was delayed a few hours because Holtzclaw’s attorney, Scott Adams, who once referred to his client as an “all American good guy,” requested a new trial. He argued Holtzclaw was denied a fair trial because a Facebook post made after last month’s verdict implied evidence was withheld in the case.According to court documents, Adams claimed “the government made deliberate discovery violations and misrepresentations, undermining confidence in the verdict.”
District Judge Timothy Hendersonmet with Adams and Holtzclaw to discuss the request, which Henderson rejected.
Holtzclaw’s sentencing comes the same month as former state trooper Brian Encinia, who arrested Sandra Bland, a Black woman, on July 10, 2015, in Prairie View, Tex., was indicted by the Waller County grand jury for perjury on Jan. 6. The grand jury has charged him for allegedly lying in an affidavit about Bland’s traffic stop, which ultimately resulted in the 28-year-old’s death in a Waller County jail cell three days later.