OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City police officer arrested on charges of serial sexual assault preyed on women in the rundown neighborhoods he was assigned to patrol — picking some up off the street, pulling others over at traffic stops and in one case taking a woman to a nearby school, according to an affidavit released Friday.
Former star football player Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, raped one woman and either fondled others or forced them to expose themselves, investigators said. He made others perform sex acts on him.
And police said there could be 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.
The investigation began — and Holtzclaw was immediately placed on leave — when police said a woman complained in June 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.
Officers identified 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. District Attorney David Prater said formal charges could be lodged by Aug. 29. Holtzclaw had not previously been disciplined in his three-year tenure with the department.
Police reports said the victims were all black women between the ages of 34 and 58. Holtzclaw, who played college football at 6-foot-1, 246 pounds, would come across the woman while on patrol. Three were assaulted in his car. One victim was taken to a school in the Spring Lake Division where he worked, according to the affidavit.
“Did he feel that these people were so disenfranchised that they could be thrown away because no one would care about their safety?” asked state Rep. Connie Johnson, who represents the area in the state Legislature.
Police said it wasn’t clear if Holtzclaw targeted victims because of their race.
“All of this victims were black, but that is probably because the area where he worked,” Nelson said, referring to the mixed race neighborhood of black, Hispanic and Vietnamese residents as well as some gentrification drawing more whites into the area.
Holtzclaw joined the force after parlaying a stellar high school and college football career into a criminal justice degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Holtzclaw was an all-state football player in his senior year at Enid, leading the team with 123 tackles. 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 was cut from the team.
His former high school football coach, Tom Cobble, said the allegations were “absolutely a shock.”
“It’s so totally out of character. It’s unbelievable.” said Cobble, who retired from coaching at Chickasha, Oklahoma last year.
“We need to reach out to him and make sure he knows he’s loved,” Cobble said.
A feature article in the Enid News & Eagle newspaper last year quoted Holtzclaw as saying he wanted to join the police department’s anti-gang unit “where you knock and go in screaming.”
“The gang unit reminds me most of playing football,” Holtzclaw was quoted as saying. It reminds me of that adrenaline rush. You are going, going … chasing bad guys.”
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.
Holtzclaw was being held at the Oklahoma County Jail in lieu of $5 million bond, according to jail records. No attorney is listed for him and jail staff said they could not provide attorney information.