Former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw is currently on trial for 36 counts of felony rape and sexual assault.
Holtzclaw has pleaded not guilty.
The trial began on Monday with jury selection, which can often take days to complete. Eighty witnesses are expected to testify on behalf of the prosecution.
Reportedly, Holtzclaw would pull the female victims over and threaten to arrest them if they did not perform sexual acts on him.
One female victim was walking home one night when Holtzclaw stopped her, threatening to arrest her on outstanding warrants if she didn’t perform oral sex on him. The victim said she reluctantly complied.
In another case, Holtzclaw put a known prostitute in his patrol vehicle, then searched her purse and found a crack pipe. He then threatened her with arrest if she didn’t perform oral sex on him.
Apparently there is proof that Holtzclaw made contact with several of the victims while on duty.
Capt. Dexter Nelson of the Oklahoma City Police Department says:
“Checking some of our surveillance systems that we have on our own officers through GPS tracking, checking his previous traffic stops, they were able to identify some of the victims.”
Grace Franklin, a protester at the trial, stated the following:
“This is about sexual assault. This is about the raping of women. As citizens, we should all be upset. We should feel we have been accosted as well… We have the responsibility as a community to support these women. They’re black women. They’re poor women. They’re women who are easily victimized. The people in our communities who are the most vulnerable are the ones who need the most protection, and he violated it. He purposefully looked for them.”
Holtzclaw showed no expression throughout the first day of trial, but after potential jurors left the court room, Holtzclaw cried in the corner of the court.
The victims have filed suit against Holtzclaw and the Oklahoma City Police Department, but the criminal trial could delay the civil proceeding. No settlement has been reached in the civil suit.
Holtzclaw was also a defendant named in a 2013 wrongful death lawsuit. A mentally ill man died in Holtzclaw’s custody.
Oddly enough, Holtzclaw has supporters. A gofundme.com site was set up in support of the embattled former officer and more than $7,000 was raised.
However, the Go Fund Me shut down the page, preventing him from getting anymore donations through its site.
Police Sexual Misconduct On The Rise
But that count does not nearly come to the actual number of officers caught up in sexual misconduct; as many cases go unreported or under-reported.
For example, California and New York – the two states with the most police officers – do not have a system for reporting officers fired for sexual misconduct. Hence, there is really no way of knowing unless whistleblowers or the media report the misconduct.
“It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country. It’s so under reported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be out to get them,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida.
In efforts to avoid liability, sometimes departments encourage victims to keep quiet. In return the officer in question will resign, while keeping their certification, allowing them to apply to other law enforcement jobs with no problem.
PINAC has reported on countless police sexual misconduct cases, a few include: