Back in October of 2015 three white Dietrich high school football players attacked and sexually assaulted a black, mentally disabled teammate. The ringleader, 18-year-old John R.K. Howard, allegedly used a coathanger to sexually assault the student while two others held him. Last week, Mr. Howard was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
John R.K Howard, 19, of Keller, Tex., pleaded guilty Friday in a Twin Falls courtroom to a felony count of injury to a child. He will be sentenced to two to three years of probation, which he’ll likely be able to complete in Texas, and prosecutors will recommend he be ordered to serve 300 hours of community service.
But Howard will avoid prison or jail time and could ultimately have his conviction dismissed if he successfully completes probation without violations or committing new crimes. And by submitting an Alford plea, he maintains his innocence while acknowledging prosecutors would likely be able to win a conviction at trial.
Deputy Attorney General Casey Hammer’s explanation leaves a lot to be desired.
But Hemmer also told Stoker that while Howard’s behavior was “egregious” and caused the victim “a lot of suffering,” it was not a sex crime, and that’s why the attorney general’s office amended the charge to the lesser felony. Court reports said a clothes hanger had been kicked into the victim’s rectum.
“We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender,” Hemmer said. “But he still needs to be held accountable.”
The other two defendants have already been allowed to plead down and will be receiving less serious punishments for their “egregious” but not straight up hate-filled behavior. As a refresher, this was what Mr. Howard did that was “egregious” but was not a sexual or racial crime.
▪ More likely than not “kicked the hanger multiple times, either embedding it into the rectum of (victim), or embedding it further.”
▪ More likely than not, the teammate who kicked the hanger “on other occasions … has ‘dry humped’ or simulated having anal sex with younger players.”
▪ “It is possible but not certain that, before practice on Oct. 22, (the player who kicked the hanger) pushed (the victim) into the corner of the bathroom on the Junior High School side of the locker room, after his underwear had been ripped, and simulated having sex with him.”
There is a $10 million civil lawsuit that’s been filed against the district on behalf of the victim. This is not affected by Hemmer’s decision to treat this adult teen like a child.