Ex-Oklahoma cop's sentencing for rape, sex crimes delayed by request for new trial

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The sentencing hearing for a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of raping and sexually victimizing eight women on his beat was delayed for a few hours Thursday as a judge considers the defence's motion for a new trial.

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Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, was set for sentencing at 10 a.m. Thursday, but proceedings were delayed as Holtzclaw and attorneys met privately with District Judge Timothy Henderson in the judge's chambers.

Holtzclaw's attorney, Scott Adams, filed a request for a new trial or evidentiary hearing late Wednesday. He told The Associated Press on Thursday that both sides are discussing Holtzclaw's motion, which alleges that prosecutors withheld evidence from the defence.

Adams says he expects Henderson to rule on the motion later Thursday. District Attorney David Prater confirmed that attorneys were discussing the defence motion.

Holtzclaw faces up to 263 years in prison after last month's convictions on 18 counts -- four counts of first-degree rape, plus additional counts of forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition and second-degree rape. He was acquitted on 18 other counts. Henderson will decide whether Holtzclaw will have to serve the sentences consecutively.

Prosecutors said Holtzclaw preyed on black women he interacted with on his beat in a low-income neighbourhood near the state capitol. During the monthlong trial, 13 women testified against him, and several said Holtzclaw stopped them while out on patrol, searched them for outstanding warrants or checked to see if they were carrying drug paraphernalia, then forced himself on them.

All of the accusers were black. Holtzclaw is half-white, half-Japanese.

Holtzclaw's attorney, meanwhile, described the former college football star as a model officer whose attempts to help the drug addicts and prostitutes he came in contact with were distorted. Adams also attacked the credibility of some of the women, who had arrest records and histories of drug abuse, noting that many didn't come forward until police had already identified them as possible victims after launching their investigation.

Several of Holtzclaw's victims have filed civil lawsuits against Holtzclaw and the city in state and federal court.

At least one of the accusers was expected to deliver a victim-impact statement Thursday, and several others were in the courtroom. "They have a right to voice whatever opinion they have about sentencing to the court," Prater said.

The Associated Press highlighted Holtzclaw's case in a yearlong examination of sexual misconduct by law officers, which found that about 1,000 officers in the U.S. lost their licenses for sex crimes or other sexual misconduct over a six-year period.

Those figures are likely an undercount, because not every state has a process to ban problem officers from law enforcement. In states that do decertify officers, reporting requirements vary.



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