Ex-Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who was sentenced in December to 263 years in prison for raping Black women, proclaimed his innocence during an interview on 20/20, and accused the women who testified against him of lying.
The interview, which aired Friday on ABC, comes nearly four months after Holtzclaw’s conviction. And Damario Solomon-Simmons, a NewsOne legal expert who is working with civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent six of the victims, says the team has been trying to locate Holtzclaw for about a month in order to move forward with a civil rights lawsuit.
In an email interview, Solomon-Simmons condemned the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for denying his team access to Holtzclaw, but granting access to 20/20. In February, a spokesman refused to disclose his whereabouts to NewsOne, saying it’s common practice for the department to conceal the whereabouts of high-profile prisoners for their protection.
“For over a month, we have not been able to find and serve Holtzclaw so can move forward with our civil rights lawsuit because the Oklahoma DOC has him “hidden,” Solomon-Simmons wrote. “So, we are shocked and dismayed to know that 20/20 was given access to Holtzclaw for a TV interview while the victims of this convicted sexual predator have not been given the respect and peace of mind to know where Holtzclaw is even located!”
NewsOne: What does the lack of access tell you about the Oklahoma prison system and its treatment of Black women?
Damario Solomon-Simmons: First, you should know that Oklahoma locks up more women per capita than anywhere in the entire world, and Black women are a substantial percentage of women prisoners in Oklahoma. In general, women have it rough here in Oklahoma. As it relates to this matter, for our clients to know that 20/20 had access to Holtzclaw for an interview and we are denied knowledge of his whereabouts is a great injustice, and re-victimizes the innocent women he sexually assaulted.
NO: He says he’s innocent. What does that tell you about his mindset?
DSS: The comments made by Holtzclaw reveal that he is a narcissistic psychopath who is unable to display remorse and accept responsibility for his actions. Worse yet, the 20/20 story further proves that the Oklahoma City Police Department had multiple red flags that should have prompted them to monitor Holtzclaw’s erratic, unauthorized, and illegal behavior after Demetria Campbell first reported an assault in November 2013. That was eight months before he sexually assaulted his fourteenth and last known victim, Ms. Jannie Ligons.
NO: The reporter used phrases such as “alleged” and “purported” when describing crimes for which Holtzclaw was convicted. Did you find that upsetting?
DSS: As a good friend of mine said to me after watching the show: ‘The fact is, Holtzclaw is a convicted felon and there is nothing purported or alleged about the 18 counts of violent sexual crimes against Black women that he was convicted of committing!’
NO: What are your next steps?
DSS: We are filing a motion with a judge to solicit his assistance in tracking down and getting Holtzclaw served, so we can move forward with our civil rights lawsuit.