Now four weeks in, the trial for Daniel Holtzclaw’s alleged serial rape of 13 Oklahoma City women has taken a disturbing turn.
The former cop’s legal defense team has been doing everything in its power to discredit the testimonies of the victims that have come forward with rape allegations by shifting the focus of the trial on the accusers’ criminal pasts and histories of drug abuse. It was this very tactic in targeting and molesting vulnerable, socioeconomically disadvantaged Black women that Holtzclaw used in the hopes of not getting caught for sexually assaulting civilians while on duty.
During one woman’s cross examination, Holtzclaw’s defense team tried to detract from her story of being fondled in the street by highlighting the fact that she is currently in jail for a felony. They questioned if the accuser’s plea deal was reduced as an incentive for her to testify.
Another woman was criticized for changing her story, while another was asked if she was on drugs during the court proceedings because of her past felony drug convictions. Holtzclaw’s defense even tried to argue that one woman’s claim wasn’t credible because she didn’t immediately report her rape afterwards.
Another victim was questioned for her drug use the day of her assault as well as the fake names she used with officers in the past.
All of his victims are Black, while most live in poor neighborhoods and have criminal pasts. Holtzclaw was able to target these women by using the resources police officers have to track down people with outstanding warrants. This explains why Holtzclaw frequently forced these women into rape by saying he had the power to either throw out their charges or pile onto the ones they already had, thereby throwing them into jail.
Holtzclaw, a 28-year-old half-White, half-Japanese former football player, was raping Black women while on the force from February to June 2014. Holtzclaw was fired from the force that June when one older 50-something year-old woman reported her rape to authorities. He was later fired in January 2015 and he is looking at 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and stalking. The defense might all up to 74 witnesses in the case while the prosecution may call 175.
While on the stand, one accuser said she was forced into exposing her privates and giving Holtzclaw oral sex when the officer discovered a crack pipe in her purse. Holtclaw’s gun was still attached to his uniform at the time of the assault.
“I was so doggone shocked and scared…I started crying and saying, ‘No,’ ” the woman testified.
She explained that she was too scared to say anything at first because she had a history of drug use and prostitution. The woman later disclosed the sexual assault when police responded to a domestic dispute between her and her boyfriend a few days after the assault, prompting a detective to investigate her claims.
Another woman accuses Holtzclaw of raping her after he drove to a desolate field. Another said she was groped and sodomized by Holtzclaw while under the influence of phencyclidine and handcuffed to a hospital bed. One teen says she was raped by Holtzclaw on her mother’s porch.
One woman testified that Holtzclaw intimidated her by asking her to get into his car and asking if she had any drugs. He instructed her to play by his rules, telling her to expose her bare breasts for him to touch and gawk at. Holtzclaw targeted this woman twice at her home. She said she didn’t think anyone would believe her because she is Black and female
Many others echoed her cry, saying that they were too afraid to call the cops on another police officer.
Holtzclaw denies the allegations but he admits that he encountered the 13 women that have come forward.
The case still hasn’t garnered the kind of national outrage that has inspired protests like the ones that have been staged for Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown. The courtroom was almost empty the first week of the trial as none of the major women’s groups designated to advocate for victims of rape and other forms of gendered violence were present in the courtroom.
The supporters of the accusers on the case have been uniformly concerned about the fact that the jury is all-white and predominantly male.
Grace Franklin tells BBC that she and her organizing group OKC artists for Justice have been rallying around the case since its inception. But they’ve failed to receive support from the media, the public, local churches and even other social justice groups.
She also cites the lack of racial diversity in the people that have been showing their interest and support for Holtzclaw’s victims.
OKC and local church officials have since put together their efforts to get more people present in the courtroom by offering carpools to the courthouse. They’ve also coordinated a system on Facebook that allows concerned citizens to volunteer for shifts in which they can attend the proceedings.
The group has agreed to collectively wear teal, stay silent and to turn off their mobile phones to show their solidarity with Holtzclaw’s victims when they’re in the courtroom. Their efforts made the courtroom almost filled to capacity by the time the second victim took the stand. OKC has also been protesting outside of the courthouse, in one case protesting so loudly that the judge stopped the trial and instructed the jury not to let the demonstration affect their decision.
Tomorrow will make the 16th day of the trial; we’ll keep you posted on more update for Holtzclaw and the rape victims that have come forward here at HelloBeautiful.com.