Tulsa, OK Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Thursday, February 18, 2016

UPDATE: An in-depth look at the 236-year sentence imposed on Oklahoma police officer Holtzclaw

Last year, we reported on the case of Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw. The officer targeted vulnerable minority women – particularly African Americans with extensive drug and/or prostitution histories – while surveying his beat in one of Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhoods. Holtzclaw forced the women to perform acts ranging from oral sex to brutal rape, relying on their underlying criminal backgrounds as a way to undermine any claims made against him.

The victims, who ranged in age from a 17-year old minor to a 57-year old grandmother, paraded through the courtroom recounting the tales of abuse – all while Holtzclaw’s team vehemently denied the allegations to the all-white jury.

In the end, the jury had no problem believing the 13 victims’ stories, which included rape in a hospital room (while in custody), on a victim’s front porch, and in the police squad car. After deliberating for just a short while, the jury found Holtzclaw guilty of 18 counts of rape and sexual assault, and recommended the maximum possible sentence of 263 years in prison.

The convictions include four counts of first-degree rape and four counts of forced oral sodomy – both of which are punishable as serious felonies.  Following the conviction, victims and their family members read tearful statements to Holtzclaw. As well, Holtzclaw’s former boss and Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty reiterated that “[Holtzclaw’s] offenses committed against women in our community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency.”

Oklahoma maintains several dozen varied sex crimes in its state code, the most severe of which is first degree rape. Other punishable offenses – requiring registry as a sex offender – include unwanted or offensive touching (“sexual assault”), rape by instrument, and forcible sodomy. If you are facing sexual assault charges, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney.

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