Last week, Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer, was found guilty on 18 of 36 sexual assault charges. On Monday, attorneys for seven of the 13 women who accused Holtzclaw in the criminal case asked a federal judge to allow a civil case to move forward.
The women are seeking class-action status, the Associated Press reports. The suit, which claims that Holtzclaw violated the women’s civil rights, alleges that Oklahoma City was negligent in its hiring and supervision of Holtzclaw.
One of the attorneys handling the suit, Benjamin Crump, told KOCO 5 News that he was representing five women, including Jannie Ligons and Shardeyreon Hill. The jury last week found Holtzclaw guilty in the charges stemming from Ligons’ assault and not guilty in those stemming from Hill’s, recommending a prison sentence of 263 years. As he walked out of the courtroom, Holtzclaw appeared to ask them, “How could you do this?” His formal sentencing is not until January.
Jannie Ligons, a 57-year-old daycare worker, was Holtzclaw’s final confirmed victim before his arrest. In the early morning hours of 18 June, Holtzclaw pulled Ligons over as she drove home from a friend’s house and forced her to give him oral sex. Holtzclaw was convicted of several charges related to that assault.
A lawsuit Ligons has filed against Oklahoma City claims that in spite of the investigation beginnign 8 May, the department “left him working as a police officer without supervision or monitoring”.
“The City of Oklahoma City was negligent in that…the City was aware of some, if not all the assaults, weeks prior to the Plaintiff’s assault” by Holtzclaw, the lawsuit reads. “The City knew or had reason to know of the dangerous activities of its servant.” Ligons is suing for $75,000.
“We understand that there were other women who called before [Ligons], whose calls went unanswered,” Crump, who also represents the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, said at a press conference on Friday.
“We need to find out how aggressive [investigators] were. We need to find out, how could this happen so many time and nobody see what was going on? … It’s mind boggling how nobody would catch this.”
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton granted Holtzclaw and Oklahoma City a stay in the civil suit on November 4th, “until January 1, 2016, unless the criminal case is finally resolved in the meantime.”