Abuse Charges Against a Former Cop Are Disturbing–As Is the Lack of Media Interest

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Abuse Charges Against a Former Cop Are Disturbing–As Is the Lack of Media Interest

The former Oklahoma City police officer charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, Daniel Holtzclaw, is a former football player, seen here in a 2009 NFL headshot.

Daniel Holtzclaw is a former Oklahoma City police officer now standing trial on 36 counts, including rape, sexual battery and stalking. Twelve women and one 17-year-old girl have come forward, saying Holtzclaw assaulted them while on patrol. Most of the victims were black, poor and embroiled in the criminal justice system for things like prostitution and drug use—a precarious state Holtzclaw allegedly used to threaten and coerce them.

As the 17-year-old put it in her testimony, “What am I going to do? Call the cops? He was a cop.”

The alleged crimes are disturbing; so, too, the evident lack of media interest. Outside of Oklahoma, the case has so far garnered little mainstream attention. A Nexis search indicates neither the New York Times nor Washington Post have printed any original reporting; nor has broadcast network news addressed a story that brings together emergent questions of police violence and rape culture.

An Associated Press investigation showed around 1,000 police officers fired over a six-year period for so-called sex crimes, including rape—certainly an undercount of abusive cops, given that it only includes those who actually lost their badges. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, which collects data on police, doesn’t track officer arrests, and states aren’t required to collect or share that information.

Holtzclaw evidently selected his victims because he believed no one would care about them. Media shouldn’t prove him right.

Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson is FAIR's program director and and producer/co-host of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR's magazine, Extra!and co-edited The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s (Westview Press).

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