OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexually victimizing 13 women while on duty used the power of his badge and uniform to prey on them, a prosecutor told jurors Monday during closing arguments in his trial.
Daniel Holtzclaw, 28, is charged with 36 counts of rape, sexual battery and other charges that carry a possible sentence of life in prison.
"He was sexually stimulated by using his power to make them show their private parts to him," Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell said.
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.
"Officer Holtzclaw counted on that," McConnell told jurors. "Officer Holtzclaw is heady from these powers. He gets even bolder. What he starts doing is taking whatever he wants."
Defense attorney Scott Adams described Holtzclaw as a model police officer whose attempts to help the drug addicts and prostitutes he came in contact with were distorted.
"Daniel Holtzclaw is an honorable and an ethical person. He has put his life on the line," Adams said.
Adams challenged the women's credibility, citing their felony records and outstanding warrants as well as inconsistencies in their stories. He also noted that most did not come forward until police investigators approached them and that some had filed civil lawsuits against the city.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger, said many of the accusers have had troubled lives but said the law protects them as much as anyone else.
"This officer violated an oath to protect this community," Gieger said. "He exercised authority on those society doesn't care about. Convince these ladies that someone does care about them."
The jury began deliberating Monday evening after nearly five hours of closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys. Judge Timothy Henderson announced around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday that the panel had not reached a verdict but was done for the night.
Jurors, who are being sequestered, were to resume working at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The 13 women testified over the past month of the trial that Holtzclaw stopped them in the neighborhoods where they lived, and sexually victimized them. Most said Holtzclaw searched them for outstanding warrants or checked to see if they were carrying drug paraphernalia, then forced himself on them.
All but one said they did not report the attacks for fear they would not be believed.
"Who will believe these women, and who will care," McConnell said was his attitude.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tim Henderson spent a little over an hour earlier in the day giving jurors instructions on the 36 counts.
Holtzclaw, who was fired after his arrest last year, did not testify in his own defense. During cross-examination of the prosecution's witnesses, his attorney questioned why most of the women didn't come forward until police identified them as possible victims. Several have drug addictions or criminal records.
The allegations against Holtzclaw brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years. The case was among those examined in an Associated Press investigation of such misconduct.
Holtzclaw's father and sister regularly sat behind him in the courtroom, as did other family members and friends. Also in the courtroom often were pastors and activists from the communities where the women live.