In the past when a Black woman accused a White man of rape and an all-White jury was selected, it did not bode well for the woman’s case. Historically, Black women raped by a White men seem to have an extra hurdle to jump when trying to convince a jury that their allegations are true. The reputation of the Black woman is also on trial. In the case of now former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, he knew who to target: Black women on the poor side of town, out late at night with prior arrests. Having a badge and a gun enabled this serial rapist to violate 13 women. Everyone was happy when he was caught, until the jury makeup of eight White men and four White women was announced.
Some felt there was no way that an all-White jury would convict a White cop who was described as a “good guy” on social media. There is even a “Justice For Daniel Holtzclaw” Facebook page that posted statements against the victims such as those below:
According to the media outlet BuzzFeed, during a bond hearing for Holtzclaw, the family stated the following, “witness and officer testimony presented by the prosecution … is based on solicited testimony by the police department of felons, prostitutes and others who would have personal motives beyond the basic truth to fabricate their stories.” Holtzclaw was eventually allowed house arrest and had to wear an ankle bracelet.
When the trial began, Holtzclaw’s lawyer told the jury that Holtzclaw’s alleged victims have ”street smarts like you can’t imagine.” He made the point that one of Holtzclaw’s victims was smoking a joint when she was pulled over. But when the jury finally heard the testimony of the women, there could be no doubt that Holtzclaw was a serial rapist. A teen victim was actually raped on the front porch of her mother’s house by Holtzclaw. When Holtzclaw was confronted and had to submit his clothing for an immediate rape investigation, the girl’s DNA was later discovered in the groin area of his uniform. Then there was the grandmother who was pulled over while driving home late in the evening after playing dominos with friends. According to the victim, Holtzclaw ordered her into the backseat of his police vehicle, stood over her, made her pull out her breasts and forced his penis into her mouth. She notified police hours later and an investigation was launched as 12 other women came forward with allegations against Holtzclaw.
The jury deliberated for four days and rendered their verdict on Holtzclaw’s 29th birthday. He was found guilty of 18 counts of rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and various degrees of sexual assault, against eight of the women who testified against him. Holtzclaw broke down in tears and cried aloud “I didn’t do it” as he was led away in handcuffs. Some supporters of the victims sang “Happy Birthday” outside the courthouse when the verdict reached the crowd.
Fortunately, this time an all-White jury got it right. They looked beyond the reputations of both the cop and the victims and listened to evidence that the defense team could not explain away. From the DNA of the teen victim in the crotch area of his uniform to GPS proof he was at one victim’s house for an extended time.
When he is sentenced in January 2016, Holtzclaw very well could spend the rest of his life in prison.