OKLAHOMA CITY — Daniel Holtzclaw sat stoically Monday as he faced his accusers for the first time since they came forward claiming the Oklahoma City police officer had sexually molested them.
During a court hearing, prosecutors said the assaults occurred over a period of months and involved several different women. They attempted to paint Holtzclaw, 27, as a man who victimized women who crossed his path as he patrolled northeastern Oklahoma City, a high-crime area, and would be reluctant to report him.
In one case, prosecutors allege that the former Enid resident sexually abused a woman at a hospital and took her to jail, then went so far as to befriend her on Facebook and go to her house seeking sex.
Holzclaw’s attorneys attempted to convince a judge that the women have lengthy criminal records and every reason to lie to curry favor with prosecutors. They noted that the women waited months to tell police about what Holtzclaw had done and questioned why they wouldn’t have come forward immediately.
A two-day preliminary hearing into the allegations began Monday. An Oklahoma County judge will determine whether enough evidence exists to proceed to trial.
Holtzclaw faces 32 criminal counts including rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and indecent exposure.
The women, all of whom are black, said they kept silent for months before telling Oklahoma City detectives what the 27-year-old officer had done because they didn’t think anyone would believe them.
“It’s my word against his," said a 52-year-old who sat with her hands clutched in her lap and avoided looking at Holtzclaw, who watched and listened intently at a nearby table.
Two of the three women who testified Monday morning said Holtzclaw, who is part Japanese, used his authority as a police officer to take advantage of them — touching them inappropriately or making them perform sexual acts on him. A third woman said she decided to show Holtzclaw her breasts of her own accord in hopes that it would speed up her contact with him.
The Enid News and Eagle typically does not identify alleged victims of sex offenses.
The 52-year-old woman, who said she's been arrested numerous times by other Oklahoma City police and has been convicted of seven separate felonies, said Holtzclaw stopped her about 2 a.m. one date in May, stuck his hand up her blouse then moved his hand into her jeans.
He eventually let her go, the woman said, with an admonishment that she had an outstanding warrant that she should take care of. The woman claimed Monday that she didn’t have any outstanding warrants.
The woman said she used her cell phone, which allows her to make calls but not hear the other person, to tell her roommate about the assault. Neither called police, she said, because they decided it was her word against an officer’s.
A second woman, 23, told police she was high on PCP in December 2013 when Holtzclaw followed her to a hospital, then went into the hospital room where she'd been placed to detox and was handcuffed her to a bed.
The woman admitted that she had been smoking PCP with a friend in the parking lot of a northeastern Oklahoma City apartment complex where she first encountered Holtzclaw.
As she was being searched by another officer, she grabbed a vial of drugs that officer was attempting to confiscate and bit down, ingesting the contents. She told the judge she was still high nearly five days later when she bonded out of jail.
Despite that, she said she remembers Holtzclaw touching her breasts over her hospital gown, exposing himself and demanding that she perform oral sex, which she said she did. She said the officer further assaulted her — penetrating her digitally — before washing his hands in the hospital room sink.
“I just really couldn’t believe it because it was the police,” she said.
The woman acknowledged that when a jail employee asked if she had been sexually assaulted in the past 24 hours, she denied it. She said Holtzclaw was standing behind her at the time and had promised to help clear up the PCP arrest.
Two weeks later, she said she received a Facebook friend request from Holtzclaw with his cell number. The two exchanged texts, she said, and in January, while off-duty, he showed up at her house and propositioned her for unprotected sex.
“I didn’t think that no one would believe me,” she said.
Charges are still pending against the woman from the PCP incident. She said she had not made a deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against Holtzclaw.