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Former Oklahoma City Police Officer Sentenced To 263 Years For Sexual Assaults

Daniel Holtzclaw (center) listens as Oklahoma County assistant district attorney Gayland Gieger (right) speaks during Holtzclaw's sentencing hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday. Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer, was convicted of raping and sexually victimizing several women on his beat. At left is defense attorney Scott Adams.
Sue Ogrocki

Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who was found guilty of raping and sexually assaulting multiple women while on his beat, was sentenced to 263 years in prison.

Holtzclaw's sentencing Thursday was temporarily delayed, after his attorney requested a new trial. Holtzclaw claimed there was evidence that hadn't been presented at trial.

The judge rejected the request, and sentenced Holtzclaw to 263 years in prison, to be served consecutively. That's the maximum sentence, and the one which had been recommended by a jury last month.

As we reported at the time, the jury found Holtzclaw guilty of rapes and sexual assaults against eight women — in total, half of the 36 charges brought against him. He's expected to appeal the conviction.

The trial had raised concerns of potential racial bias: the jury was entirely white. Holtzclaw is half-white and half-Japanese, the Associated Press reports, while his victims were all black.

In the end, the jurors, the judge and the district attorney all agreed that Holtzclaw should spend the rest of his life in jail.

Hotlzclaw's case led to a yearlong Associated Press investigation into sexual misconduct and sexual crimes by police. One of the reporters behind that investigation, Nomaan Merchant, explained the back story on NPR's Here & Now:

"Daniel Holtzclaw's case is what inspired our investigation into police sexual misconduct. He was arrested [in 2014] after a grandmother in her 50s came forward and said that an officer had pulled her over and forced her to perform oral sex. Police began investigating the officer who she accused and found eventually a dozen of other women who came forward and said that they had been victimized by Daniel Holtzclaw, either in searches or traffic stops. ...

"Police say that Holtzclaw was able to prey on women in a minority, low-income neighborhood in northeast Oklahoma City. He specifically targeted women with drug addictions, and one case involving a woman who was a prostitute on the street who he picked up and drove home and then raped her in her house. He was able to target marginalized women who believed they wouldn't be believed if they went to the police. One woman testified when asked why she didn't call the police herself at first, she said 'who are you going to call on the police?' "

Inspired by Holtzclaw's case, the AP uncovered about 1,000 instances of police sexual misconduct.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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