Former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted Thursday night of committing numerous rapes and sexual assaults while on duty and faces a possible life sentence in prison.
In a racially charged case that attracted national attention, Holtzclaw was accused of committing sex crimes against 13 different African American women while patrolling a low-income neighborhood.
The disgraced ex-officer sobbed in court Thursday — his 29th birthday — as Oklahoma County Judge Timothy Henderson read the verdicts.
Facing a total of 36 counts, Holtzclaw was found guilty of 18 of them — including four separate counts of first-degree rape.
— Adrianna Iwasinski (@AIwasinski) December 11, 2015
“Justice was done,” District Attorney David Prater said, according to the Oklahoman.
Following four days of deliberations, the all-white jury convicted Holtzclaw of charges related to eight of his 13 accusers, the Associated Press reported, with a total recommended sentence of more than 260 years.
He will be formally sentenced next month.
“I didn’t do it,” Holtzclaw said before he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Reuters reported.
The AP reported that the mother of one of Holtzclaw’s accusers clapped as the verdicts were read.
Outside the courtroom, a prayer circle formed. “Thank you for justice, Heavenly Father,” one woman said.
After the prayer circle, two women began singing the “Happy Birthday” song.
“Happy birthday, dear Daniel. Happy birthday, to you!” they sang.
Some of the victims are expected to speak to the media Friday.
In June 2014, Holtzclaw drove a 17-year-old girl to her mother’s house, prosecutors said. The teen, now 18, later testified in court that Holtzclaw inappropriately touched her after they arrived at the home.
Then, she said, Holtzclaw raped her, on the porch of her mother’s home.
“What kind of police do you call on the police?” the teen said, when asked why she didn’t report the encounter.
Holtzclaw was fired by the Oklahoma City Police Department in January, after the allegations emerged.
“We are satisfied with the jury’s decision and firmly believe justice was served,” the department said in a statement Thursday.
All 13 of the women who testified against him are African American.
Holtzclaw is characterized in court records as “Asian or Pacific Islander,” the Oklahoman reported.
“To the African American community, I’ll say this … I appreciate you trusting us and standing down and making sure nothing foolish happened during the investigation of this case and during the trying of this case,” Prater told reporters, according to the newspaper.
“You trusted us, and we appreciate that. The Oklahoma City Police Department did the right thing, and so did we. And you trusted us to do it. And I hope you know we will continue to do that.”
During closing arguments, prosecutor Lori McConnell said Holtzclaw targeted drug addicts and other women with felony records who he could intimidate with threats of being jailed in order to prevent them from reporting the assaults to authorities.
“He didn’t choose CEOs or soccer moms; he chose women he could count on not telling what he was doing,” McConnell said, according to Reuters. “He counted on the fact no one would believe them and no one would care.”
He was, McConnell said, “sexually stimulated by using his power to make them show their private parts to him.”
Holtzclaw did not take the stand in his defense.
Here’s how the Oklahoman described the allegations against Holtzclaw after his arrest in August 2014:
Holtzclaw is accused of stopping women — some as they walked through neighborhoods — and threatening them with arrest. Holtzclaw reportedly forced women to expose themselves, fondled the women, forced four of them to perform oral sex on him and had intercourse with at least two of the women, court records show.
For weeks, the jury heard accounts from victims, who told stories of background checks or searches during the encounters.
“I knew that it was going to be a sexual assault,” said one woman, who alleged that Holtzclaw raped her after a traffic stop. “There was nothing that I could do. He was a police officer, and I was a woman.”
The Associated Press, which earlier this year highlighted the case as part of an investigation into the problem of sexual misconduct in law enforcement, reported that some of the accusers came to court dressed in inmate clothing.
Holtzclaw’s defense attorney focused on their drug use and questioned why the allegations weren’t immediately reported.
During closing arguments, Scott Adams, the ex-officer’s attorney, called Holtzclaw “an honorable and an ethical person” who “has put his life on the line.”
Adams did not immediately return a message left Friday morning.
This post, originally published on Dec. 8, has been updated.