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Oklahoma ex-policeman guilty of raping women while on duty

Reuters logo Reuters 12/11/2015
Daniel Holtzclaw is led from a courtroom during a break in testimony in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. © AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki Daniel Holtzclaw is led from a courtroom during a break in testimony in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - A former Oklahoma City police officer was found guilty of rape and sexual battery by a jury on Thursday in a case where prosecutors said he preyed on women who had trouble with the law, hoping that their word would not stand up against his.

Daniel Holtzclaw, who turned 29 on Thursday, broke down in tears as the verdict was read in the case where he was charged with sexually assaulting and raping 13 women. He was also cleared of about half of the 36 counts against him.

Sentencing was set for January and he could face life in prison. Holtzclaw was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

The jury has been deliberating since Monday night.

Protesters who gathered outside the court earlier this week, demanded that the all-white jury convict the officer based on the physical evidence and the word of the 13 black women, who testified about how they were sexually assaulted.

In closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors said Holtzclaw targeted his victims by going after women he came across while on patrol. He ran background checks and went after those who had outstanding warrants, previous arrests or carried drugs or drug paraphernalia.

They said he did this because he did not think authorities would take the victims' word over his if he had to defend himself against sexual assault allegations.

The defense said the victims provided testimony that was unreliable and dishonest.

Defense attorney Scott Adams said Holtzclaw was an honorable police officer whose activities were made to appear evil and suspicious.

Thirteen women took the stand in the trial, which began more than a month ago, telling jurors of sexual assaults that ranged from touching over their clothing to forced oral sex and rape.

Holtzclaw, who did not testify, was fired over the accusations in January 2015 after approximately three years on the job. Holtzclaw is mixed race Asian and white. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Ken Wills and Sandra Maler)

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