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Holtzclaw Victims Speak Out A Day After Rape, Sexual Assault Conviction

Less than 24 hours after a jury convicted former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw of 18 counts of rape and sexual assault, victims shared their stories outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse Friday morning.

 

Updated at 2:47 p.m.: 'You Were Never Alone,' Advocate Tells Victim

Victims in the case held a news conference outside the courthouse around midday Friday, alongside their families and supporters. The group's news conference also included attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing five of the victims in the case.

Tezlyn Figaro, who is credited with reaching out to Crump and pushing for the case to get more attention, said, "I am ashamed at the lack of coverage from Oklahoma City media as well as the national, with not covering this case as it should have been from Day One."

Figaro, who works in public relations, says her mother was the news director assistant at Oklahoma City's Channel 4 for 15 years. She described being pulled over "numerous times" for no reason in the city.

"You were never alone," Figaro told one of the victims in the case, who then gave her a hug. "Because I've been riding with you since Day One. You didn't know me, and I didn't know you, but I've been fighting for these women for the last year."

 

Updated 12:08 p.m.: Janie Liggins Speaks

 

"I was violated in June by a police officer," says Janie Liggins, recalling that she had been pulled over for no reason. Identified by her attorney Benjamin Crump Friday as the woman who began the proceedings against Holtzclaw, Liggins recalled thinking after Holtzclaw pulled her over, "He was going to kill me" – and being afraid to look at the officer's badge to learn his name.

"I was so afraid," she said, before adding that because she survived the ordeal, she wanted to come forward.

"He just picked the wrong lady to stop that night," she said.

Discussing her experience, victim Sade Hill said she too had been pulled over by Holtzclaw – and that when it happened, she had no idea what would happen next.

She described being taken to a hospital, where she was undressed and handcuffed to a bed.

That's where, she said, "he just started to manipulate me."

"I just couldn't even believe it. I was speechless, I was scared," Hill said Friday, as her parents stood with her and offered their support.

Crump added that the case shows the Holtzclaw had selected disadvantaged women to prey on, counting on their unwillingness to report a crime to the police. And he said that such crimes are also happening beyond Oklahoma City.

The event featuring the victims in the case began with a prayer that both thanked the Lord for the verdict and also prayed for Holtzclaw.

"We are pleased with the 18 guilty counts we got," activist Grace Franklin of OKC Artists for Justice said after the prayer. "We are not pleased with the 18 that we didn't. There were five women who did not receive justice. That is a problem."

She added that for black women in America, "there is a tendency not to value them" in the same way as women of other races.

The group's news conference also included attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing five of the victims in the case. Crump introduced "the courageous hero" in the case, naming Janie Liggins (we're unsure of the spelling for now) as the woman who stepped forward to accuse Holtzclaw.

Crump said he had been brought into the case after receiving multiple calls from people who were concerned that the events in Oklahoma City were not going to result in a criminal conviction

After one of the victims called him and grew emotional on the phone, Crump said, "It became personal."

 

Updated December 11, 1:00 a.m.

 

Following more than 40 hours of deliberation, jurors reached a verdict Thursday evening in the case of a former Oklahoma City police officer who faced 36 charges, including rape and sexual assault.

 

Daniel Holtzclaw trembled and sobbed as judge Timothy Henderson read through the 36 charges brought against him. Count 1, sexual battery. Guilty. Recommended punishment: Eight years. Count 2, procuring lewd exhibition, not guilty.

 

It went like this for the three dozen charges, while Holztclaw, the fired police officer, rocked and cried, occasionally putting his head on the table.

 

In the end, Holtzclaw was found guilty on four of six first-degree rape charges brought against him, one charge of second degree rape with instrumentation, four counts of forcible oral sodomy, six counts of sexual battery and three procuring lewd exhibition charges. The jury recommended 263 years of prison time for the 29-year-old former college football player.

 

Outside the Oklahoma County District Courthouse on Thursday night, Grace Franklin embraced friends after hearing the verdict. She the four day jury deliberation was making her nervous.

 

“At the same time we understand that it was 36 counts they were weighing,” Franklin said. “We are disappointed that he was not found guilty of all the charges.”

 

Franklin co-founded Oklahoma City Artists For Justice to help support Holtzclaw’s victims and organize rallies.

 

During his time as a police officer, Holtzclaw preyed on black women in Oklahoma City’s east side, women with histories of drug arrests or outstanding warrants. He selected women that he thought would never report the crime, and promised to drop drug charges in exchange for sexual favors. Their ages ranged from 17 into their 50s.

 

“The brazenness of him to just rape and pillage on my side of town was a problem,” Franklin said. “And we wanted to make sure that it was known that you have to pay a price for picking out the most vulnerable women and attacking them.”

 

Last June, Holtzclaw targeted a grandmother in a traffic stop, and forced her to perform a sex act. Unlike most the other women he assaulted, she immediately reported the crime to police. Detectives connected her assault to a previously unsolved report, then discovered Holtzclaw’s pattern of sexual abuse. He was fired.

 

Ahmed Cooper says all day on Thursday, he was anxious,and couldn’t concentrate at work while the jury deliberated for a fourth day. Last night, when he heard the jury reached a decision, he raced to the courthouse. For him, the Holtzclaw case hits close to home: Many of his family members live in east Oklahoma City where Holtzclaw searched for victims.

 

“I wonder if it would have been one of my cousins or one of my aunts. I could have very easily been that. And I have friends and I haven been around other people who have been victimized. So I think it is very important for men to stand up,” Cooper said.

 

Last month, the Associated Press reported that nearly 1,000 police officers across the country lost their badges during a six year period for rape, sexual assault, sodomy, sex crimes and sexual misconduct. And that number is probably an underrepresentation, because it only includes those who lost their license to work.

 

And Grace Franklin said it’s because many victims fear to come forward.

 

“We know that he’s not the only officer running around raping people,” Franklin said. “Do we think there’s another  serial rapist in the Oklahoma City Police Department? Probably not. We hope not. We pray that there’s not. But there is a problem when  you have people in positions of power preying on women.”

 

In a Facebook post, the Oklahoma City Police Department said they are pleased with the jury’s decision.

 

Daniel Holtzclaw’s sentencing will be on January 21.

Updated December 10, 8:33 p.m.

The jury convened shortly after 8 p.m. and found Daniel Holtzclaw guilty of 18 of the 36 counts he faced, including four counts of first-degree rape. Each first-degree rape count carried a recommended punishment of 30 years in prison.

 

Holtzclaw was emotional, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably as Judge Timothy Henderson read the verdict. Holtzclaw was found guilty of several counts of forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, and second-degree rape by instrumentation.

In addition to the four first-degree rape counts, Holtzclaw was found guilty of one count of second-degree rape by instrumentation, six counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy, and three counts of procuring lewd exhibition.

In a rare move, Henderson allowed television cameras inside the courtroom to broadcast the verdict live.

 

Prosecutors allege Daniel Holtzclaw victimized 13 African American women. If convicted on all charges, Holtzclaw could face life in prison. During the six-week trial, defense attorneys questioned the credibility of the victims.

The 18 counts Holtzclaw was found guilty on carry a total recommended punishment of 263 years in prison. Henderson ordered a January 21 sentencing hearing to convene at 10 a.m.

Updated December 10, 2015, 7:34 a.m.

Jurors broke for the evening at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, without reaching a decision on the fate of Holtzclaw. Judge Timothy Henderson ordered the jury sequestered in a hotel room, and they'll reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The jury has now spent 34 hours over three days trying to reach a verdict. The 29-year-old Holtzclaw could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of first-degree rape.

Updated December 9, 2015, 5:22 p.m.

 

The Oklahoma City jury charged with deciding Holtzclaw's fate have not yet reached a decision as of 5:27 p.m. on Wednesday.

At one point in the afternoon, jurors asked judge Timothy Henderson if they could visit the crime scene. Their request was denied. Judge Henderson and lead prosecutor Gayland Gieger both remarked they had never been involved in such a long jury deliberation process.

The twelve-person jury consists of eight men and four women. All twelve members of the jury are white.

From December 8, 2015

A group of nearly 40 people rallied outside the Oklahoma County District Court today, calling for Holtzclaw’s conviction. Organizer Grace Franklin said they want to support the victims.

“A lot of things were said about the east side of Oklahoma City, about these women’s character, that we thought were absolutely out of pocket,” Franklin said.

The goal of the rally was to maintain a focus on sexual assault and rape.

“It’s a silent epidemic that is happening in this country. Nobody wants to talk about it,” Franklin said. “And then when you have the authority on top, it becomes an issue of danger in a different way because the vulnerable people in our community, the vulnerable women, are so accessible to police officers.”

Rally co-organizer Candace Liger said she isn’t surprised the jury has not yet reached a decision.

“They have 36 counts, and not only that, they have to do suggested sentencing for all of those 36 counts,” Liger said. “They have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of evidence to go through.”

Jurors heard closing arguments in Holtzclaw’s six-week trial on Monday, then deliberated late into the night. They picked up deliberations Tuesday morning at 10:30.

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