On January 21, Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years, sentences to be served consecutively resulting from his December 10, 2015 conviction of 18 of 36 counts of sexual assault while on duty as a police officer. The victims range in age from 17 — 57. All of them were African American.
Sexual assault convictions are a rare occurrence and even rarer in cases involving perpetrators in positions of power. In the many stages a sexual assault case goes through, systems and communities believed these survivors enough to move this case forward to a just end.
Additionally, this case has provided an illustration into the intersections of oppressions. In 2015, the Associated Press investigated police officer sexual misconduct finding high incident reports. Sexual abuse by an officer is a common complaint but it has not been a part of the recent conversations around police violence or abuse of power. It is also overlooked in many of our conversations in the anti-sexual assault movement. Because all survivors in this case are African American, this also underscores the importance of anti-racism work in the anti-sexual violence movement and need for our continued allyship to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Finally, we hold the 13 survivors in our thoughts today. We hope they have found solace in the end of this case and can begin their healing process. Black Women’s Blueprint offered an open letter to the survivors that you can read and sign onto.
There will be days when you don’t feel like fighting and that’s ok. You have a multitude of people worldwide behind you, at your left and at your right, in front of you and for sure under your feet as you stand on the shoulders of the fiercest warriors whom across centuries have fought to end sexual violence.
We continue to be inspired in our work to end sexual violence by each survivor story we hear and all that we learn from their experiences.