Crime

Ex-Cop Sobs, Denies Guilt After Verdict In Multiple Rape Trial

| by Nik Bonopartis
Daniel Holtzclaw pictured in a 2009 NFL headshotDaniel Holtzclaw pictured in a 2009 NFL headshot

A former Oklahoma City police officer broke down in tears after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting eight women while working as a beat cop in the city's low-income, minority neighborhoods.

Daniel Holtzclaw turned 29 years old on Dec. 10, the day the jury returned guilty verdicts on 18 of 36 charges leveled against the disgraced police officer. As court officers cuffed him following the verdict, Holtzclaw shouted, "I didn't do it!" according to the Daily Mail.

Outside, supporters of the victims gathered to sing a taunting "Happy Birthday" to the prison-bound former officer, who could face 263 years in prison when he returns to court for a sentencing hearing. The jury found Holtzclaw guilty of four counts of first-degree rape, which each carry a recommended 30-year sentence, as well as second-degree rape, sodomy and sexual battery, The Associated Press reported.

The case, which sparked headlines and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement, hinged on the testimony of Holtzclaw's victims, who were all black. Prosecutors told the jury that Holtzclaw specifically targeted minority women in Oklahoma City's poorer neighborhoods, often stopping them on the pretense that he was looking for drugs. After threatening to arrest them for outstanding warrants or drug paraphernalia, Holtzclaw would coerce them into sex, NBC News reported.

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Several victims did not come forward until police began an investigation.

"I didn't think anyone would believe me," one woman testified. "I'm a black female."

But one victim, a grandmother in her 50s, did come forward, which set off the investigation. She told the jury that Holtzclaw pulled her over, asked if she had been drinking, then forced her to perform oral sex on him in the back of his patrol car, according to NBC News.

The grandmother was the first to testify in the case, while a 17-year-old girl was the last to give her testimony. The jury found Holtzclaw guilty on the majority of the most serious charges after deliberating for four days, despite Holtzclaw's attorneys' attempts to poke holes in the victims' testimonies by pointing to past convictions for crimes like drug possession.

Holtzclaw, a former college football star who once had NFL aspirations, was fired from the police department before the trial.

“Justice was done today, and a criminal wearing a uniform is going to prison now,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said. “In those counts where the not verdicts came back, they determined that we didn’t prove those cases beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t mean they didn’t believe the victims.”

Sources: NBC News, AP via Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail / Photo credit: FAIR, Police photo via Huffington Post