OKC Police Officer Charged with Rape Faces Preliminary Hearing

Accused as a rapist, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw sat in a preliminary hearing and listened to women testify that he raped them while on duty. Holtzclaw, 27, is a former football standout and ex-police officer with the Oklahoma City Police Department's Springlake division. He has been charged with 32 criminal counts including rape, forcible sodomy, sexual battery, indecent exposure, burglary, and stalking after several women came forward saying they were raped or sexually assaulted by the man during his patrol. Prosecutors say that Holtzclaw would prey upon women that were known to be prosecutors or drug offenders, because he did not believe these women would report him. In some cases, he would allegedly tell them he would take them to jail unless they complied with his sexual demands. A 17-year-old accuser testified at the preliminary hearing that she was afraid of what would happen to her if she reported him. She said that Holtzclaw picked her up while she was walking and threatened to arrest her on outstanding warrants. He instead took her home, where he then allegedly raped her on an enclosed porch. Prosecutors presented DNA evidence found in the uniform pants of the former police officer that linked him to the girl. The girl spoke of the feeling of helplessness echoed by other accusers: "What am I going to do? Call the cops? He was a cop." At least eight women have testified that Holtzclaw raped or sexually abused them, but none came forward until one woman, apparently a law-abiding citizen, reported her rape to authorities.  Because the 52-year-old woman had no outstanding warrants and no fear of going to jail, she was able to confidently report the assault, unlike other victims who were afraid of legal repercussions if they did not give in to the officer's demands or if they tried to report him. Holtzclaw's defense maintains his innocence, and his attorney attempted to disparage the testimony of the witnesses, pointing out that most were criminals and drug users. According to her own testimony, one woman was high on PCP when the alleged assault occurred. Still, not all of the witnesses had a criminal record, and not all were drug users. Even if they were, it does not make rape excusable. At the culmination of the preliminary hearing, Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy R. Henderson will determine whether there is enough evidence to put Holtzclaw on trial. In the meantime, the former police officer is under house arrest on $609,000 bond.

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