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Holtzclaw Sentenced to 263 Years for Rape and Sexual Assault of Black Women

Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been sentenced to 263 years in prison today for the rape and sexual assault of 13 Black women in 2013 and 2014. State prosecutors successfully requested that Holtzclaw serve his sentence consecutively, noting that each survivor deserved to have justice for the individual crimes committed against them.

In December, a jury found Holtzclaw guilty on 18 criminal charges, including five counts of first and second-degree rape, six counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy, and three counts of procuring lewd exhibition. The jury recommended that Holtzclaw serve 263 years in prison. At today's sentencing hearing, three of Holtzclaw's victims delivered impact statements, including his youngest victim who was only 17 years old at the time of her assault. She told the court that since the assault, "my life has been upside down."

Jannie Ligons, the first woman to report Holtzclaw, told the court that her life had been changed forever after the assault, according to Tom George, a local TV reporter who live tweeted the hearing. In her fifties at the time of the attack, Ligons' complaint spurred an investigation that uncovered Holtzclaw's pattern of abusing his position of power to prey on Black women.

At least 13 women came forward during the investigation. Many of the women had not reported the assault for fear of reprisals or fear-later confirmed by the jury's failure to find Holtzclaw guilty on all 36 of the criminal charges brought against him-that they would not be believed. At a preliminary hearing in the case, the 17-year old survivor explained her reasoning, "Who are they going to believe?" she asked. "It's my word against his. He's a police officer."

Holtzclaw's attorney said he plans to appeal, according to Talking Points Memo. The judge previously denied Holtzclaw's request for a new trial or evidentiary hearing. He is to begin his sentence today.

"Justice was served today," said Gaylynn Burroughs, Feminist Majority Foundation Director of Policy and Research. "Today, there is some hope that the world will hear that Black women's lives matter. I applaud the courageous women who came forward to demand this justice, and the many Black women activists, especially in Oklahoma City, who took to the streets, filled the courtroom, and worked so tirelessly to bring attention to this case. Black women's bodies are too often the site of state-sponsored violence. Black women are too often ignored and marginalized, and our demand for justice ignored. Let this verdict and this sentencing serve as a catalyst for change.'

Media Resources: Talking Points Memo 1/21/16; @TheTomGeorge 1/21/16; Feminist Newswire 12/11/15; 11/20/15