As the Daughter of a Cop, I Think Daniel Holtzclaw Deserves Life Behind Bars

Daniel Holtzclaw court

On December 10, Daniel Holtzclaw received a birthday gift he'll never forget: justice. The 29-year-old former Oklahoma City police officer has been convicted of sex crimes against several women in a case that is so horrifying, it sounds like a disgusting and twisted plot on Law & Order: SVU.

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Living in the Oklahoma City area, I can't tell you enough how much this case was followed and discussed. You couldn't go anywhere without someone mentioning this unthinkable crime, as we all hoped the women involved would see justice.

After 21 days, a verdict was reached, and it found Daniel Holtzclaw guilty on 18 of the 36 counts that he was charged with -- including first and second degree rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, and procuring lewd exhibition.

Holtzclaw was accused of sexually assaulting 13 black women while on duty, from December 2013 to June 2014 (OKC police fired him in January of this year). In addition to victimizing a woman he pulled over during a routine traffic stop (she had to perform a sexual act), Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of raping a 17-year-old girl ... on her mother's front porch. In fact, it was her DNA, found both inside and outside Holtzclaw's pants, that helped bring him to justice.

What's creepy -- as if raping women isn't sick enough -- is that Daniel Holtzclaw purposely targeted women of color in some of Oklahoma City's poorest neighborhoods. According to their testimonies, he would stop and search them, check for criminal priors, and proceed to sexually assault them, threatening legal consequences if they didn't comply.

More from The Stir: Girls Are Raped & They Blame Themselves ... and We Let Them

Prosecutors hope Holtzclaw will serve his sentences consecutively -- which could total 263 years. Final sentencing is scheduled for January 21.

If I'm being honest, hearing that Daniel Holtzclaw would have an all-white jury -- when all of his victims were black -- made many people, including myself, nervous (District Attorney David Prater alleges the defense denied black jurors). It's certainly no secret that our country has a history (present time included) of dealing with race issues. Even though this jury convicted Holtzclaw on crimes related to eight of the victims (they claim there wasn't enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt for the other five), they specifically chose counts with a lengthier jail time. Hopefully, this will make those with a distrust of the system feel there's progress.

As the daughter of a retired police officer, I can't tell you how infuriating it is to follow stories like this. Daniel's abuse of power, the one that's supposed to serve and protect, is beyond appalling -- and sadly, he's not the only one. In fact, our newsfeeds are full of stomach-turning events, where an officer misuses his abilities to terrorize -- and even kills -- without care of the consequences. Events like this make it hard for the average citizen to trust law enforcement and can also put a target on the backs of officers who are good.

Hearing about what Daniel Holtzclaw did makes me think about our children -- especially our young daughters -- and how we're supposed to help keep them safe. Sexual assault is real and a very scary thing. It's estimated that a woman is raped every two minutes in the U.S. A little more than 30 percent are between the ages 12 to 17. These are our daughters, our sisters, our cousins, our loved ones.

More from The Stir: 5 Steps to Help Protect Your Child From Sexual Assault

I commend one of the women involved in the case (a 57-year-old grandmother) for coming forward. I can't even begin to imagine the kind of bravery it would take, especially when her assaulter was an officer. No one, regardless of color, age, belief, or anything else, should ever be sexually assaulted.

Period.

Our society has a pretty major issue with victim blaming, which makes it hard for those assaulted to want to come forward. We need to do our best to provide an atmosphere full of trust that would allow for any healing after such a tragic event. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) recommends helping loved ones who've been sexually assaulted through communication without judgment, encouraging self-care and support, and simply being there.

Daniel Holtzclaw might've cried in court (I don't believe he's sorry ... not one bit), but my tears are for those who suffer in silence, those who experience the unimaginable. I wish no one would ever deal with an event like this, but I hope those who cowardly attack see justice served.

 

 

Image via NewsOK

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