Saturday, August 23, 2014

Community and the Creation of a Serial Predator: Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw

Daniel Hotzclaw at Eastern Michigan
According to the Oklahoma City Police Department, OKC Patrol Officer Daniel Holtzclaw sexually assaulted at least seven women, possibly more,  while on duty patrol in northeast Oklahoma City. Holtzclaw is accused of first-degree rape, first-degree rape by instrumentation, three counts of forcible oral sodomy, two counts of sexual battery and two counts of indecent exposure. He is being held in Oklahoma County Jail on a five million dollar bond.

Daniel is 27-years-old. He's from Enid, Oklahoma. He holds the single game record at Enid High School for most tackles in a game (25 tackles). He was a classmate of my daughter's. His father is a respected lieutenant for the Enid Police Department. Daniel's sexual predatory behavior, if true, leaves a trail of unspeakable damage in the victims and their families. The trauma will be ongoing. The emotional and psychological strain of having to relive the assaults through testifying at trial against the assailant is something most people will never understand unless they've been forced to do it. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families, as well as my prayers to God on their behalf.

Daniel Holtzclaw's arrest also leaves a path of destruction in the Oklahoma City Police Department, his family, his girlfriend in Oklahoma City, and the community of Enid as a whole. I don't know Daniel personally, but I did watch him play football throughout high school, and I followed with interest his stellar career at Eastern Michigan University.

Those who know Daniel are devastated. On the front page of this morning's Enid News and Eagle, his former high school football coach, Tom Cobble, says:
 "I am absolutely shocked. It's so totally out of character. It's unbelievable. We need to reach out to him and make sure he knows he's loved."
I know Coach Cobble. He's a good man. I know what he is intending to say, but his words will be
Oklahoma City Officer Daniel Hotzclaw
misconstrued by those who neither know him nor Daniel Holtzclaw. Those across the nation who will only read of Daniel Holtzlaw's  predatory behavior will view Daniel as a monster, and any statement about reaching out to Daniel in love--with no mention of the victims--will be ridiculed.

I don't disagree with Coach Cobble. I want the Holtzclaw family to know they are loved. But Coach Cobble's statement got me to wondering where we as a community failed in our relationship with Daniel Holtzclaw. Could it be that Daniel, contrary to what his coach said, never felt unloved either by his family, his friends, or his community. Daniel has a number of friends who love him and are now defending him on social media.

Could it be the real issue is that Daniel Holtzclaw always felt privileged and above the law?

For example, there was a widespread rumor that Daniel took steroids in high school to give him an edge on the football field. I don't know if it was true, but I heard the rumor multiple times from various people during the years Daniel played football for Enid High School. Granted, there is a vast difference between an allegation (unproven) that you took  steroids while playing on a high school football team and an allegation (unproven) that you raped and sodomized women while on duty with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

But, if true, the thinking behind both actions is the same: "I'm above the law."

If the sexual predatory allegations against Daniel Holtzclaw turn out to be true--and the District Attorney would never file charges unless he believes them to be true-- it should send a chilling reminder to all administrators and teachers of Enid schools, coaches and mentors of Enid ballplayers, church and civic leaders, and parents of Enid young people that it is far better to teach discipline, respect for the rules, and personal accountability at an early age, than to wake up one morning and realize that the thinking 'I'm above the law,'  which you've enabled, has landed your adult loved one on the front page of the newspaper.

Our community is in need of firm, consistent and loving discipline of our young people, teaching them that nobody is above following the rules, or we will continue to be shocked by people like Daniel Holtzclaw .


Bob Cleveland said...

Unfortunately, I don't see anything in society ... any institution, any discernible group ... that's teaching morality and ethics and absolutes, any more.

Except the church. And a (seemingly) decreasing minority of families.

I was raised in the 40's and 50's. I recall the time when neither TV nor movies showed couples in the same bed. My Grade school class pictures show exclusively skirts on the girls, with not a knee in sight. And during 4 years of high school, there was exactly one pregnancy among the student body (and the baby was immediately adopted out so he could have a good home).

Those views are seen nowhere, now, save in the church. And, at that, among a decreasing share of the population.

It's a lot like the situation in the SBC, from many angles. There absolutely must be something systemically wrong, but we seem to proud to admit it.

Aussie John said...


Bob is so right!

Even the church has adopted situational ethics which arose in the 1960's via an Episcopal priest by the name of Joseph Fletcher who, in a sincere attempt to see the church rid itself of both antinomian and legalistic responses to morality and ethics.

His was an attempt at compromise, a"middle road" which would lead to New Testament practice.

Sadly such a broad brush approach only leads to perversion of the Scriptural teaching regarding love, and an erroneous, selfish application in a given situation.

Wade Burleson said...

Amen (Bob), and Amen (John).

Victorious said...

I feel strongly that this type of assault has it's root in a sense of entitlement on the part of young men and objectification of young women. It's an act of power and control and I'm sad to say that attitude is fostered, not only in the secular world, but also in more churches today than ever before in my memory.

I don't pretend to know how to resolve this type of problem, but a good start would be to teach equality and mutual respect to both male and female of all ages beginning at a young age.

Tragic consequences for all involved. :(

Rex Ray said...

“By their fruits you will know them.” It’s obvious to me this man was never a Christian. Otherwise with his first sin, the Holy Spirit within him would have been in such grief, the man would have been miserable.

I believe his only sorrow is in getting caught. His worst punishment would be in him becoming a Christian and realizing what he has done.

Off topic:
I’ve been under the weather. My email is messed up. Wade did you get my brother’s book?

Wade Burleson said...


I did! Thanks so much! Quite interesting. I appreciate you sending your brother's book my way!

Unknown said...

Has it come to the mind of anyone that rather than Daniel thinking himself above the law, he just might think of others as "below the law." By which I mean he might see those to whom he has to issue citations, or arrest, etc. as being a "lower class" citizen than himself. One's view of others surely has a effect on how we relate to them; or so it would seem to me..

Anonymous said...

While I agree with much of this post I would feel much more comfortable if it had been written after a judge and jury had convicted him of these crimes. Sometimes we jump to judgment and conclusions before all the proof has been heard. This is not to say that I think he is not guilty but I would rather hear all of the facts first.

The Govteach said...

Yes, let's blame the teachers for this kid.
We can do just so much without getting yelled at, or sued, or fired, or run out of town on a rail.
We're under fire from all sides. Christians, heathens, pagans, lawyers, and any other group you can name.

And people wonder why you can't get good teachers?

Victorious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victorious said...

This isn't a matter of rules, discipline, or love. This man didn't steal of bag of potato chips or cheat on a school exam. Those are rule-breaking actions. Overeating or consuming too much alcohol at a party reflects a lack of self-discipline. This alleged crime (and it is a crime) is one of entitlement, power, control, and anger. It's designed to humiliate and overpower a physically weaker victim in the most private, intimate areas of their being.

While it's true that many sexual predators have themselves been sexually abused, one doesn't reach the age of 28 without knowing it's a crime. And especially one who has studied the basics of law enforcement.

It's true that one is innocent until proven guilty, 6-7-8 reports are pretty hard to ignore and should at the very least curtail some of the adulation for the one in question. It should also behoove us to research some of the dynamics involved in sexual assault and we might be surprised to find that the number of touchdowns, reviews from peers, scholarships earned, exemplary grades, etc. have no bearing on this type of crime and in fact, may have contributed to his sense of power and entitlement.

just my opinion...

Muff Potter said...

@ Bob Cleveland, Aussie John, & Victorious:

Much agreement here, especially with Victorious's comment on entitlement in the macho subculture of football. Before the world had moved on and in the culture I was raised in, we (boys) were generally taught from little up that you are entitled to nothing, and that when a girl or woman says no, it means no.

Rex Ray said...

Muff Potter,
Not to pick on you, but I wasn't raised “when a girl or woman says no, it means no” because as a son of a Baptist preacher, I was raised that sex was only between a married couple which I obeyed and was married at 25. You might be surprised how many times I was the one saying “no”.

I suppose none of these man’s victims were Black or there would be a second Ferguson, Missouri in progress.

Victorious said...

Rex, they were all black according to the Enid News link in Wade's post.

We should get over the idea that this is the same situation as two adults considering a sexual act and one decides against it. This is a predator who has a plan, deliberately searching for a vulnerable, unsuspecting victim and forces a sexual act. Most often any victim will do.

Many sexual predators have consenting partners in their lives.

In no way does this crime resemble two adults who have a choice to engage or refrain.

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for the update, and I agree he is a predator. Do you think he was ever a Christian?

Do you think the public ‘response’ would be different if he had done these crimes in Missouri?

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous 8:24 am,

The Police Department and DA's office began their investigation in June. An arrest was made this week (the last week of August). Seven victims have come forward ("in the mouth of two witnesses, a thing is confirmed"). The bond is 5 million. I understand your sentiments (that's why I said, "if true"), but the evidence seems overwhelming.

Bennett Willis said...

6408There are some good discussions and training on sexual assault that are being used in some high schools and colleges. A major feature is the emphasis that the person doing this has no support from friends--of any sort.

Apparently this is an important feature in making the assault seem "the thing to do."

Victorious said...

Hi Rex,

I don't think we can/should ever profess to know whether or not a person is saved. Paul certainly was guilty of many more crimes than Daniel Holtzclaw has and yet a miracle happened in his life. I've heard of many prison conversions so there's always hope.

I'm sympathetic with the stressors law enforcement encounter on a daily basis as my own nephew is a lieutenant on the local police force. I've heard stories that help me understand how some law officers could reach a breaking point. I wouldn't be surprised at high statistics of suicide and divorce for that career due to the nature of the things they routinely deal with daily.

I think there are pockets of racism in lots of places throughout the country but imo those protesters in Mo. did little to improve race relations. Hostility raises its ugly head everywhere given the opportunity and law enforcement faces those situations on a daily basis.

No easy answers...

Rex Ray said...

I think you misunderstood my question. Your answer was there is hope he can be saved just like your examples. I agree with your answer,

But my question: Was he saved before the crimes.
In my opinion he was not.

I know that police brutality is not limited to blacks. My brother was not charged with disturbing the peace, but refusing to leave a public building even though he had an appointment with the owner of the building. He was not charge with resisting arrest or anything else. Yet he was knocked unconscious twice, refused any phone call, his body had deep bruises all over, choked within an inch of his life, and his knees were damaged so bad he couldn't work for three months.

Victorious said...

I've seen nothing about his faith in the news articles so far, but either way, sinful behavior is no criteria for judging one's salvation or previous conversion. If we conclude he wasn't a believer based on his sexual crime, we would have to apply the same criteria for Jimmy Swaggert (remember him?), Tom White, Nate Morales, Darrell Gilyard, and a host of those addicted to porn and lust.

You would also have to include me in that list. My sin might be different, but it's sin nonetheless.

Daniel Holtzclaw's sin has been made public because it violates civil law whereas the sins of many of us remain secret.

Just can't judge one's salvation in my opinion. Only God knows.

Hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

I know the "Holtzclaw" crime is very personal to Enid because he is a "home boy" but we've had the same crimes committed by policemen here in Georgia and looking on the internet I see where it is happening everywhere.

I wonder what is the percentage of "out of control" corrupt police officers we have today compared to that of the past? Is it a matter of it being an increasing trend or rather due to increased news coverage and social media?

I've known a number of law officers and there are a lot who cannot handle the authority they have been given. Some officers often over-react to any challenge to their authority and have acquired a "king" syndrome where they consider regular civilians as "subjects" who owe their unrestricted devotion and respect to those charged with enforcing the law. For some officers with weak egos and a history of low self-esteem acquiring such a lofty position of power must be intoxicating.

At the same time, it's difficult to understand how even the best qualified can function in their roles as public servants who work in the cesspool of society, day-in and day-out and at the same time maintain an ability to have restraint and remain socially functional. Is it humanly possible for a person to deal with such carnage and darkness every day and not acquire an animosity and disgust with people in general? It must be somewhat like a person entering hell at the beginning of their work shift and then exiting at "quitting-time". I'm sure the variables between police officers and combat soldiers are similar with both having incidents of the abuse of power at times.

Like combat troops, most of the police officers work out of a sense of wanting to help their community to be better and see their role as a noble calling. I acknowledge that without them our society would come unraveled and become total anarchy. We need them. Still, I would not attempt to justify the despicable behavior of officers preying upon those who are helpless when confronted with a sick, perverted person wearing a badge. I'm trying to understand how it happens.

Victorious said...

RRR, good questions and observations. A little off-topic (but not much:)

You might research two fascinating studies that afford insight into how roles define behavior. One is the Stanford University "Prison Experiment" that recruited 24 students to participate; 12 would be defined as guards and 12 as prisoners. You can find an overview of the study here:
But of particular interest is that the experiment that was scheduled to last for 2 wks had to be called off after only 6 days due to the abuse suffered by the prisoners at the hands of the guards who took the role so seriously that they humiliated and beat their peers so severely that half of them suffered severe emotional and cognitive reactions.

Another experiment in 1960 was called "A Class Divided" administered by third-grade teacher, Jane Elliott. The purpose was to allow the children to experience in a small way the effects of racial discrimination. When she told the blue-eyed children they were special and the brown-eyed children were not, they began to treat one another according to the privileges afforded them. Then she reversed the conditions. It was very controversial at the time, but when she did a follow-up interview with members of that class years later, they share the valuable lessons learned as a result.

The lessons are obvious. Power can corrupt and cause irreparable harm to those who (are told) they have none and are vulnerable.

Victorious said...

P.S. RRR, I meant that my comment was a little off topic, not yours. :)

Anonymous said...

So many southern baptist churches in oklahoma towns swoon over there football "heroes" and the associated youth ministers cater specifically to this crowd to the detriment of the rest of the youth and children of the church. This, associated with parallel favoritism and warped ethics at their school, leads them to think they have a right to take whatever they want. The church is not influencing anybody right now, especially the youth.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Could it be the real issue is that Daniel Holtzclaw always felt privileged and above the law?

He was a Football Star in High School. "He holds the single-game record at Enid High for most tackles in a game."

What do you think? In High School -- especially a Football-Uber-Alles High School -- Football Stars Can Do No Wrong.

Some years ago, we had a local news item where some college sports star (forget the sport) was accused of rape or something similar, but was being defended by influential alumni because he was needed for the championship. The radio guys reporting closed the report with "Anyone else wonder how O.J.Simpson got started?"

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

“By their fruits you will know them.” It’s obvious to me this man was never a Christian.

We talking "No True Scotsman" here, Rex?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Part 1 of 2

Unfortunately, I don't see anything in society ... any institution, any discernible group ... that's teaching morality and ethics and absolutes, any more.

I agree we seem to have strayed from a clear sense of right and wrong. I've also learned as I've gotten older that while there are definitely things that unquestioningly qualify as right or wrong, there are other things, especially if they affect you or your family personally, that are not so cut and dried as we might have once thought.

An example that comes to mind is the late Adrian Rogers' stance on divorce. According to him it was wrong. Period. The problem was, it was always someone else affected by divorce. It was easy to say "divorce is wrong" until it struck his own family. You see, his younger daughter experienced a painful divorce, and his once-rigid stance softened overnight after that. He seemed to have a newfound compassion for those impacted by divorce. He even performed the wedding ceremony for a friend whose first husband had divorced her, stating that she had not sinned. It was he who had left her.

I was raised in the 40's and 50's. I recall the time when neither TV nor movies showed couples in the same bed. My Grade school class pictures show exclusively skirts on the girls, with not a knee in sight. And during 4 years of high school, there was exactly one pregnancy among the student body (and the baby was immediately adopted out so he could have a good home).

Those views are seen nowhere, now, save in the church. And, at that, among a decreasing share of the population.

Now, my dear, dear Bob, I remember my decade of "raisin'" similarly. (Trust me, it wasn't very far removed from yours. I remember when JFK was shot if that tells you anything.) But if I've learned one thing in life, it's that the "glory days" weren't nearly as "glorious" as we remember them, and maybe this is a problem that is unique to the church. More and more we see a push by Southern Baptists to force people into "pink" and "blue" "roles," patterned after the fictional TV sitcoms of the '50s and '60s. You know, when married couples slept in twin beds and didn't have toilets in their homes. It's true! I saw it on Leave it to Beaver and The Dick van Dyke Show! At least by the '70s Mike and Carol Brady slept in the same bed... which I guess was okay as Robert Reed was gay IRL... but they didn't have toilets in their house either. All that to say, things weren't always as they appeared or as nice as we'd like to remember. In recent years I've come to realize the idyllic reality many of us remember was quite different from that of the as many as 1 in 4 of those sweet little girls in your 4th grade class photo who had been, were then, or would be sexually abused by the age of 18. That was their reality.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Part 2 of 2

To equate one sign of a more "moral" society with little girls wearing dresses... with no knees showing because seeing a little girl's knees could incite even the purest of young men to have impure thoughts is no more "real" than Ward and June Cleaver. (That was before I was in grade school because while we were forced to wear dresses to school... the teachers measured how far above the crease at the back of the knee your skirt came, and if it exceeded 3 inches you were sent home, so our knees were on full display! How many young boys did we Jezebels-in-training inadvertently lead into temptation?!)

I thank God the "proper lady's uniform" of form-fitting dresses, pointy party-hat bras (sorry if that embarrasses anyone, but if you're old enough to remember the Sears & Roebuck catalogs you know... ), girdles, garter belts, white gloves, heels, beehive hairdos, and hats have gone the way of the dinosaur! Good riddance! Most little girls today aren't forced to wear scratchy-waisted dresses with layers of petticoats and patent leather Mary Janes. Every photo of me (thankfully few and far between) from that era shows a band-aid on at least one of my knobby knees. Lava rock playgrounds, monkey bars, heck... just having fun, and little girls in dresses were not a kind mix. We shed blood while you little boys were protected by double-knee denim jeans. I admit it. I experienced denim envy!

Unless you went to an all-boys school or there were only a handful of kids in your class, to believe there was "exactly one pregnancy" in your high school is naive. Trust me. Kids were "doing it" back then, and without all the BC methods available today, I guarantee you there was more than one pregnancy in your high school. It happened in the best of schools. Families would move in the middle of the school year, or girls would be sent to boarding school or to stay with a relative for a year. Abortions were going on then, too.

Here's an example of how creative some families could be to avoid the public humiliation of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. (You would have been in about the 4th grade.) My mother had an older relative who married and had several children by her one and only husband. He died when the youngest was just a toddler. She remained in their small southern town, and a couple years after his death she became pregnant, reportedly by a well-known local man. This would have been scandalous for both of them but especially her, so before she began to show they sent her out of state to "help a sick relative." She had the baby and gave it up for adoption to a Catholic orphange. Then a few weeks after returning home (the sick relative miraculously recovered or died, I forget how they explained it) and with the quiet cooperation of the nuns at the orphanage, she "adopted" a baby from them. What a kind thing for a young widow to do, right? Only it was the same child to whom she'd recently given birth. In no way am I criticizing her for keeping and raising her child! It just illustrates the lengths to which people would go back then, and probably still would in some families today, to deal with such a pregnancy. Apparently no one outside the family knew the difference or at least didn't talk about it openly if they did. I bet a lot of things like that went on back then. Still do today, but there's not as much of a stigma today. People can be more open about it, but I guarantee you it's been going on since time began. Is it any worse just because it's more out in the open now?

I disagree that the church is effectively addressing these issues. More and more they aren't. The teen pregnancy rate as well as sexual abuse, alcohol consumption, and illicit drug use is by most indications about the same among "churched" kids as the rest of the teen population. The answer lies not so much in the church as it does at the family level.

Shirley Taylor said...

The church provides fertile ground for abuse of women.The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 makes wives and women less important in God's eyes, that what is taught in church bleeds out into society. This allows both men and women to see women as being "less than" and gives privilege to men and boys to do as they please. Until the church removes it restrictions against women simply for being born female, they are to blame for much of this abuse of women.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Until the church removes it restrictions against women simply for being born female, they are to blame for much of this abuse of women.

I think I understand what you're saying, and I agree with your sentiments about the BF&M 2000. While these attitudes towards women definitely contribute to an environment in which some men may wrongly conclude abuse of women is justifiable or condoned (thank you, Paige Patterson and John Piper for helping promote that image), I cannot directly blame it on "the church."

At the end of the day people are responsible for their own actions, and that includes Daniel Holtzclaw. Whether he "felt loved" or not, whether the "community" somehow "failed in their relationship" with him, if he got this far in life... graduating college, qualifying to be hired by the police department, seemingly admired by a lot of people now... then there is only one person to blame for his alleged heinous crimes, and that's Daniel Holtzclaw. Period. While I haven't seen anyone rushing to his defense, a reference to such was made in this article. There is no defense for his actions, and how anyone could make excuses for the charges brought against him is beyond belief.

What gets me, while it doesn't apply in this case, is when some guy with a room temperature IQ rapes, tortures, or kills a woman and people rush to blame it on his "child like" state. I'm sorry, but no "child" short of the spawn of Satan himself, exhibits that kind of behavior. A "child-like" man who can't sign his name or count out the right number of coins to equal a dollar automatically seems to know just how to torture and violate a woman.

Victorious said...

Why do some people bully others? Because they can. The strong have a distinct advantage over the weak and vulnerable. And without strong messages against the use of such power, it will continue in all facets of society and churches are not exempt.

True story:

As a victim advocate for 10 yrs., we were required to attend court-mandated batterers groups to learn how batterers think. Nearly every one justified his assault, but a couple said something I've not forgotten for 15 yrs. They said that no one ever told them they couldn't hit a woman and specifically listed father, friends, or pastors. Think about it. While permission is not overtly given, neither is it prohibited. Was it John Piper who tried to define "levels" of abuse and minimized a "slap?"

We see assault (including sexual) in colleges, homes, military, on the streets and in the media on a daily basis. While we might understand the secular focus and proclivity toward power and crime against women, it must be strongly opposed in the church. After all, those coming into the church have been indoctrinated from without and bring with them those violent tendencies so prevalent in today's culture.

It's not enough for churches to play the "equal but different" card, they must squash the teachings that convey entitlement to the men in the congregation. It must be shouted from the rooftops. (anyone remember that book?)

In all fairness, we were also required to attend the court-mandated female batterer's groups. The overall conclusion was that if you live with a continual pattern of violence, you become violent but in the case of women, it's often a matter of self-defense. Bottom's a learned behavior.

Anonymous said...

Nice headline. Did it get your blog the attention you were hoping for? Shameful.

Wade Burleson said...


I do hope that Daniel Holtzclaw is found innocent, and if you read the article, I said 'allegations' and ('if true').

The factors mitigating a belief that there is no guilt include:

(1). The testimony of seven independent strangers who all say they were raped or sodomized by Mr. Holtzclaw. Of course, the argument could be made it was 'consensual,' but with an officer on duty, it would still be a felonious crime, even if (somehow) the defense attorney was able to convince a jury of consensuality.

(2). The Police Department first discovered the allegations in June. It was two months later that Mr. Holtzclaw was arrested. In the intervening time, an investigation involving Internal Affairs, OSBI, and the District Attorney concluded guilt. Charges will be filed this week or next.

(3). The bond was set at 5 million dollars. That is extraordinary. There are circumstances, only known to a judge, for why bond was set so high.

(4). I do hope that there is no guilt, and would offer a 'presumption of innocence' until 'proven' guilty. Unfortunately for Mr. Holtzclaw, the facts seem to line up for a swift verdict of guilt with a serious punishment to follow.

Chris said...

"For example, there was a widespread rumor that Daniel took steroids in high school to give him an edge on the football field. I don't know if it was true, but I heard the rumor multiple times from various people during the years Daniel played football for Enid High School."

So what are your thoughts on gossip?

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear your response to Chris's comment

Anonymous said...

And , yes--I know the family and I do not know of his guilt or non-guilt, but, rumors and gossip are addressed in the bible. Nobody should be repeating things based on rumors that are not proven, I would expect better from you.

Anonymous said...

There is a widespread rumor that Pastor Burleson laid with a man while in high school. While this is an allegation, it is important for us to question why we are reading this homo's blog. How does that make you feel?

Gossip and speaking about things you do not know as fact can be hurtful. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the alleged crimes as well and the Holtzclaw Family.