An Open Letter to Daniel Holtzclaw

I followed your case from the beginning. I heard the testimonies who brought up allegations against you. I saw the news coverage of your trial. I saw the video of you after your trial. I saw how you, after the jury came back with a verdict of ‘guilty,’ started crying. I saw how you, as you were being escorted out of the courtroom, as you were being led past the jury, you turned to them, tears in your eyes, and said, “I didn’t do this.”

I finished the statement for you: “I didn’t do this. I’m a good man.”

Maybe you are—correction, were—a good man. But that doesn’t matter anymore.

Life is a series of choices, and you made yours.

You made a choice when you decided to abuse your power. You made a choice when you “hand-selected” your victims. You chose women who were African-American, women who had criminal histories. You chose women who, statistically, are least likely to come forward, or, if they did, wouldn’t be taken seriously.

What you thought would be a guarantee of not getting caught, turned out to be the hubris that caused your downfall: you decided to victimize women who refused to be victims.

You targeted women the odds were against, but who chose to speak up anyway, despite the risk of not being believed, despite the risk of you walking free, women who decided to share their stories.

I don’t know their stories personally. I’ve only heard them second hand, by reading them on the internet, or hearing what the media has reported. (and we all know how non-biased the media is.)

I don’t have to know their stories to be affected by their stories. I know what it’s like to be a victim, to be afraid to speak up. I know what it’s like to be taken advantage of and how much strength it takes to finally tell someone.

And so the fact of the matter is, you can look at the jurors with tears in your eyes all you want. You can say “I didn’t do this. I’m a good man” as many times and as loud as you want. But neither of those actions change the fact that you are more likely to be acquitted, or never tried, for a rape you did commit than to be accused of a rape you didn’t.

And the fact that neither of those results happened, despite your defense team’s best efforts, gives me hope that maybe the culture in America is changing. The fact that a jury of your peers—comprised of mostly white men, jurors whom your defense team thought would be sympathetic to you—convicted you on 18 counts, gives me hope that this behavior (police brutality, abuse of power, crimes against women, crimes against minorities) won’t be tolerated anymore.

I hope the outcome of high-profile cases like yours signifies a shift in the way crimes against women, and minorities, are treated, with perpetrators held accountable for their actions, despite their status and who their victims are.

I hope, rather cautiously, that one day women and minorities will not be afraid of walking down the street alone. Because, no, not all men are like you. But there are enough of you that we have to be on high alert.

It’s innocent until proven guilty, but if you’re a woman walking down the street at night, and you see a man, he’s guilty until proven innocent. And I know that doesn’t make sense. I know how ridiculous that sounds.

But here are some statistics: 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime, and if you’re a minority, your chances increase to 1 in 2 or 3. Even more alarming is the fact that 4/5 of rapes are carried out by someone known to the victim.

I’m tired of being cautious. I’m tired of having to be careful how I dress, where I go alone.

And so I hope the culture is beginning to change.

When you looked at the jury and said, “I didn’t do this [I’m a good man],” I wanted to jump through my tv, take you by the shoulders, and say, “you did this to yourself.”

Life is a series of choices, and you made yours.

The good man you might have been is now eclipsed by the man you’ve become.

I don’t know what happened in your life to start this chain of events, and I don’t know where it goes from here. But I do hope you’ve learned from it.

I hope we’ve all learned something from it, and I hope it sparks a conversation.

We all have to make choices: some are right; some are wrong, but they all affect the courses our lives take.

Your choices didn’t just alter your life, they altered the lives of the women you preyed on.

I hope healing comes for them because their past doesn’t define them.

I hope it comes for you because your past doesn’t define you.

Read more  To Dan and Brock Turner | Perfectly Imperfect