OKLAHOMA CITY — A white police officer in Oklahoma has been jail in lieu of $5 million bond after being charged with serial sexual assault on multiple black women in the dilapidated neighborhoods he was assigned to patrol.
Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, a former collegiate standout football player at Eastern Michigan, is accused of raping one woman and either fondling others or forcing them to expose themselves, investigators said Friday. He allegedly forced others perform sex acts on him. Three were assaulted in his car and one was taken to a school in the Spring Lake Division where he worked, according to the affidavit.
According to the district attorney, Holtzclaw was able to camouflage his abhorrent behavior because he worked a dilapidated section of the city, about two miles north of the stat house, that few care to venture into, particularly at night. He reportedly began picking some women up off the street, pulling others over at traffic stops and in one case taking a woman to a nearby school, police documents show.
Based upon the evidence procured thus far, police describe Holtzclaw as a serial sexual assaulter and believe there are many more victims than the seven already identified.
“They’re retracing all of his contacts, as many as they can, especially traffic stops,” said police spokesman Capt. Dexter Nelson.
Holtzclaw’s egregious actions in the line of duty would have evaded detection for longer had one victim not come forward. In June, a woman complained that Holtzclaw had sexually assaulted her during a traffic stop on a boulevard about two miles north of the state Capitol. The alleged incident prompted police to check other contacts Holtzclaw had with the public since beginning street patrols about 18 months ago.
By the time they were finished with the preliminary investigation, authorities were able to identify seven victims and eight incidents before accusing Holtzclaw of crimes including rape, sexual battery and indecent exposure. Police Chief Bill Citty published Holtzclaw’s photograph with the hope that other women would step forward, he said. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said formal charges could be lodged by Aug. 29.
Holtzclaw had not been previously disciplined in his three years with the department.
The black women allegedly assaulted are between the ages of 34 and 58, though police said it wasn’t clear if Holtzclaw targeted victims because of their race.
“All of the victims were black, but that is probably because the area where he worked,” Nelson said, referring to the mixed-race neighborhood of mostly black, Hispanic and Vietnamese residents.
Holtzclaw joined the force after graduating with a criminal justice degree from Eastern Michigan.
In high school, he was an all-state player in his senior year at Enid, leading the team with 123 tackles. His former high school football coach, Tom Cobble, said the allegations were “absolutely a shock.”
The Eastern Michigan football media guide in 2008 featured him at the top of its roster page — touting his weightlifting abilities and his starting in every game since his arrival on campus in 2005.
He tried out for the Detroit Lions after he was not taken in the NFL draft, but he was cut from the team.
“It’s so totally out of character. It’s unbelievable.” said Cobble, who retired from coaching in Chickasha, Oklahoma, last year, according to newsok.com.
Nelson said Holtzclaw’s colleagues were upset at the allegations against a police officer.
“Most of us see it as a black eye to our profession and our department,” he said.