Former officer's trial on sex charges begins today

In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, Daniel Holtzclaw (front), a former Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexual offenses against 13 women he encountered while on patrol, is led into a courtroom for a hearing in Oklahoma City. Holtzclaw’s trial is set to begin today. (AP Photo)

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma City police officer is scheduled to stand trial on a litany of sexual misconduct allegations beginning today.

Daniel Holtzclaw, 28, faces three dozen charges stemming from allegations he coerced women to expose themselves, touched them inappropriately or used his authority to force them to have sex while he was on duty. Holtzclaw, an Enid native, has pleaded not guilty.

On Friday afternoon, a handcuffed Holtzclaw, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, shuffled into a courtroom and spoke quietly with his attorneys before a hearing.

He appeared to listen intently as prosecutors and defense attorneys hashed out last-minute details, including plans to take jurors to sites where some of the incidents are said to have occurred.

Prosecutors told Judge Timothy Henderson they plan to show jurors several hundred exhibits during the trial.

They have compiled a witness list with nearly 200 names, though they only expect 60 to 80 of those to testify.

Defense attorneys submitted a list of 74 people they may call to the stand, including Holtzclaw’s father, an Enid police officer, and Holtzclaw’s brother-in-law, a Norman police officer.

The trial is expected to last a month.

Felony charges against Holtzclaw include rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy, burglary and indecent exposure. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of stalking, court records show.

During a preliminary hearing last year, prosecutors presented two days of testimony from 13 women accusing Holtzclaw of sexually abusing them.

Prosecutors said the former officer found victims while patrolling the northeast side of Oklahoma City, for the most part, until boundaries of his precinct changed to include the northwest part of the city. Some of his later accusers reported coming into contact with him there.

The alleged assaults occurred over a period of months and involved women ages 17 into their 50s, prosecutors said.

Holtzclaw’s lawyers have portrayed most of his accusers as drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics or habitual offenders who waited months to tell their stories to police.

His lawyers have questioned why the accusers wouldn’t come forward immediately.

In the earlier hearing, Holtzclaw’s attorneys attempted to convince a judge his accusers had lengthy criminal records and incentive to lie to curry favor with prosecutors.

They also noted police found many of the accusers, and media attention may have stirred some of them to take advantage of the situation.

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