The former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of sexually assaulting eight African-American women, while he was on duty, chose his targets carefully, an attorney for some of the victims said Friday.
“It wasn’t coincidence who he chose to violate,” attorney Benjamin Crump said at the press conference in Oklahoma City where two victims of former officer Daniel Holtzclaw also spoke. “It was methodical and it was deliberate.”
Holtzclaw, who is white and Asian, was found guilty Thursday on 18 counts, including four counts of first-degree rape. He had been charged with 36 counts, with 13 women testifying at the trial that Holtzclaw sexually victimized them. All of his victims were African American.
One question addressed at the press conference is how a police officer could prey on so many women without anyone noticing. Another question is why the national press failed to focus earlier on a case involving 13 alleged victims.
“Why are they unworthy [of] national media attention in such a sensational situation as a serial rapist with a badge raping a dozen women?” Crump said.
Advocates for the women used social media to bring more attention to Holtzclaw’s trial, issuing updates from the courtroom.
“We started tweeting. And then others started tweeting. Then celebrities started tweeting. And now people finally started paying attention,” said Crump.
Two of Holtzclaw’s victims also spoke at the press conference.
Janie Liggins said that the officer pulled her over, fondled her and “did certain things” to her.
“I kept begging him, ‘Please, don’t make me do this, don’t make me do this, sir,’” Liggins said. “I tried to look up [at] his name, I was afraid to because I said, ‘If I know his name, I know he’s going to kill me,’” she said.
But Liggins reported her attack immediately.
Sade Hill, another victim, said that she was arrested by Holtzclaw and taken to a hospital across town. Once she took off her clothes, she said that she was handcuffed to a hospital bed. “I was scared, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was in survivor mode so I had to do what he was making me do,” said Hill. “No nurses, nobody came to check on me.”
Some other recent media coverage has focused on sex crimes by police officers. An Associated Press investigation found that roughly 1,000 police officers lost their badges within a six-year period because of sexual misconduct.
Grace Franklin, a co-founder of Oklahoma Artists for Justice, and an advocate for Holzclaw’s victims, spoke briefly at the press conference on Friday.
“We want to say that we are pleased with the 18 counts that we received,” Franklin said. “We are not pleased with the 18 that we didn’t. There are five women who did not receive justice.”
with The Associated Press