US Supreme Court rejects ex-cop’s appeal of rape convictions

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal for a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of sexually assaulting black women he encountered while patrolling the city’s low-income neighborhoods.

Attorney James L. Hankins asked the highest court in December 2019 to review a ruling against 33-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw issued months earlier by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The Supreme Court’s denial of the written request means the lower court’s decision stands.

Holtzclaw’s sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, called the lower court’s ruling “outrageous,  flawed and scientifically illiterate”.

“The average time it takes to exonerate an innocent person like Daniel is upwards of 14 years,” she said. “This is devastating and Daniel lives through it every day, but he remains strong in his faith and spirit.”

Prosecutors alleged Holtzclaw targeted black women and girls while on duty in 2013 and 2014. Holtzclaw was found guilty in 2015 of 18 charges, including rape and sexual battery involving eight women. He was sentenced to 263 years in prison the following year.

Oklahoma’s criminal appeals court rejected his appeals last August that argued a lack of evidence, misconduct by prosecutors and a failure by the defense attorney at trial to present an expert to offer an alternative explanation to how DNA of one victim wound up on Holtzclaw’s pants.

His case became a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement. A 2015 Associated Press investigation highlighting it found about 1,000 officers in America lost their licenses for sexual misconduct over a six-year period — an undercount because some states don’t have a method for banning problem officers.

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