An Oklahoma City jury convicted a former police officer of sexually assaulting seven other women. Minutes after Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, was found guilty, the mother of his youngest accuser said she hoped the case would show that the problem of police sexual misconduct wasn’t limited to one officer or one department. “It’s a problem for the nation,” she told the Associated Press. Holtzclaw was convicted last night of preying on women he met on his beat in a minority, low-income neighborhood. He could spend the rest of his life in prison based on the jury’s recommendation that he serve a total of 263 years, including a 30-year sentence on each of four first-degree rape convictions.
The case brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct committed by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years. Holtzclaw’s case was among those examined in an Associated Press investigation of sexual misconduct by law enforcement. The probe found that some 1,000 officers had lost their licenses for sex crimes or other sexual misconduct over a six-year period. The finding is undoubtedly an undercount of the problem. Not every state has a process for banning problem officers from re-entering law enforcement. Of the states that do, great variations exist in whether officers are prosecuted or reported to their state licensing boards. A common thread was that police sexual misconduct involved victims who were among society’s most vulnerable: juveniles, drug addicts, and women in custody or with a criminal history.