Why haven’t you heard of Daniel Holtzclaw?

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Convicted serial rapist Daniel Holtzclaw may be the most horrific criminal that you’ve never heard of.

Because his victims were economically disadvantaged African American women, many with criminal records, Mr. Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma City police officer, calculated that he could get away with his crimes because no one would believe his victims. He was wrong, as an all-white jury convicted him of eighteen charges last week.

Unfortunately, though, the mainstream media was nearly silent on the case. If the victims had been thirteen white women, the story would have been on every news outlet’s home page.

A predator with a plan

Officer Holtzclaw forced poor black women from the troubled neighborhood he patrolled to submit to sexual abuse in order to avoid further legal trouble. In other words, he extorted sex from them.  His victims, many of them substance abusers, testified that they felt powerless and forced to submit.

One woman testified that after she was sexually assaulted by Holtzclaw, she told her boyfriend, who then told her to call the police. Chillingly, she told her boyfriend, ‘He is the police.’”

Officer Holtzclaw worked his night shift alone in one of the state’s poorest neighborhoods. Twelve women and one teenage girl, all black, ranging in age from 17 to 58, testified. A pattern quickly emerged. Officer Holtzclaw would stop them, search them for drugs and run criminal background checks on them. He would then leverage anything he found to pressure them into silence before sexually assaulting them, threatening arrest if they resisted.

Not the first time

As horrific an abuse of power as this story is, this isn’t an isolated case. The Associated Press released the findings of a yearlong investigation which showed that about a thousand police officers nationwide have committed similar sexual assaults while on duty.”?

And that may be the tip of the iceberg, because those are only the officers whose licenses were revoked after sexual assaults. Shockingly, not all states revoke licenses of police convicted of sexual assaults. And more generally, we know that 68 percent of rape survivors never report their rapes to the police, while 98 percent of rapists never serve any time in jail.

For Daniel Holtzclaw and the Oklahoma City police department, the legal system presses on. Jannie Ligons, one of the victims, claims that Officer Holtzclaw was already being investigated by the Oklahoma City police when she was assaulted. As many as half of his victims may have been assaulted while he was under investigation. If so, Ms. Ligons and these other victims have a strong claim that the Oklahoma City police acted negligently when they left Holtzclaw working as a police officer without supervision or monitoring.

Officer Holtzclaw faces up to 236 years in prison.

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