As ex-Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw stands trial today for sexual assault against 13 women of color, a new report shows that nearly 1,000 officers have been stripped of their badges in the past six years for sexual assault and misconduct.
The report, published yesterday, is the result of a year-long Associated Press investigation into sexual assault by American law enforcement officers:
The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.
The AP reached that number by obtaining records from 41 states on law enforcement officers who’ve had their certifications revoked, then sourcing officers’ cases for sexual assault. The report states that between 2009 and 2014, nearly 550 local and state officers—including prison guards and school resource officers—lost their badges for sexual assault. An additional 440 officers lost them for other related offenses such as child ponography, on-duty intercourse and sexting with minors. The stats do not include federal officers.
Several significant cases were mentioned in the report, including: William Roscoe, the Connecticut police officer serving a 30-month prison term for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old involved in a program for teens interested in becoming officers; Jonathan Bleiweiss, the Flordia sherrif sentenced to five years for sexual intimidation of nearly 20 immigrant men; and Michael Garcia, the New Mexico officer sentenced to nine years for sexually assaulting a high school police intern while working in a sex crimes and child abuse unit.
The report also goes into greater depth about the charges against Holtzclaw, discussing his attorney’s thinly-veiled victim shaming during pre-trial hearings:
Adams’ line of questioning at the pretrial hearing suggests he will raise doubts about the accusers’ credibility and portray investigators as having coaxed the women into saying they were attacked. Many of the women had struggled with drugs. Some had been prostitutes or have criminal records. Most lived in the same rundown swath of the city in sight of the state Capitol dome, and they all are women of color.
Many of their allegations are similar, with the women saying they were accused of hiding drugs, then told to lift their shirts or pull down their pants. Some claim to have been groped; others said they were forced into intercourse or oral sex.
The similarity of the accusations points towards the systemic issues surrounding this case. Holtzclaw, who is white, is accused of sexually assaulting women of color whose testimony would otherwise be ignored or deemed "unreliable" in a court of law. Many commenting on the trial on social media have pointed out this dynamic, noting mainstream media’s relative silence:
— Yukio Strachan (@boldandworthy) November 2, 2015
Wondering if Black women’s lives matter since there seems to be very little coverage of the #DanielHoltzclaw trial in OK. He raped 13 women!
— Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk) November 2, 2015
Since ppl keep saying that Black girls should "obey" all police, should they obey officers like #DanielHoltzclaw who raped 9 Black women?
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) November 1, 2015
Click here to read the AP’s full report.