The trail for Daniel Holtzclaw, the former Oklahoma City police officer accused of assaulting 13 women while on duty, began jury selection on Monday.
Holtzclaw is being tried on a myriad of charges, including rape, burglary, and sexual battery. Prosecutors allege he targeted vulnerable Black women in a low-income section of the city because he believed they would be too afraid to file a complaint.
Holtzclaw was arrested in August 2014 after his former colleagues completed a six-month investigation, which was started due to a complaint file by a 57-year-old grandmother named “J.L.” The woman said she was driving through the area when Holtzclaw stopped and assaulted her. Unlike the some of other victims, however, J.L. didn’t have a record and wasn’t afraid to file a report with police.
According to J.L., Holtzclaw pulled her over and made her lift her shirt and pull down her pants during a search. When he didn’t find anything illegal, J.L. claimed Holtzclaw unzipped his pants and directed her to give him oral sex.
After J.L. filed a report with the sex crimes division, detectives revisited an earlier complaint about an unidentified officer accused of assault. Oklahoma City detectives then used the department’s tracking software to evaluate Holtzclaw’s movements and identify more victims.
The Associate Press gives more details:
J.L.’s accusations made Davis and a fellow detective curious about an unsolved report filed five weeks earlier in which an unidentified officer was accused of stopping a woman and coercing her into oral sex.
According to pretrial testimony, the detectives reviewed the names of women Holtzclaw had come into contact with on his 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift and interviewed each one, saying they had a tip she may have been assaulted by an officer. Most said they had not been victimized but, among those who said they were, other links to Holtzclaw were found, Davis said in court. The GPS device on his patrol car put him at the scene of the alleged incidents, and department records showed he called in to check all but one of the women for warrants, the detective testified.
By the time the investigation concluded, the detectives had assembled a six-month narrative of alleged sex crimes they said started Dec. 20, 2013, with a woman taken into custody and hospitalized while high on angel dust. Dressed in a hospital gown, her right wrist handcuffed to the bedrail, the woman said Holtzclaw coerced her into performing oral sex, suggesting her cooperation would lead to dropped charges.
“I didn’t think that no one would believe me,” she testified at a pretrial hearing. “I feel like all police will work together.”
In spite of the horrific nature of Holtzclaw’s accused crimes, he isn’t an anomaly. After conducting a year-long investigation, the Associated Press uncovered “1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.” Even more alarming? The AP found the number is likely much higher because the issue is underreported.
Holtzclaw faces 36 counts, including rape, sexual battery and forcible oral sodomy.