News of a sexual assault case has ripped apart the small town of Dietrich, Idaho. Here’s a quick look at what we know regarding the deeply disturbing incident.
In a Dietrich High School locker room on October 23, 2015, a Black disabled teen says he held out his arms to hug three of his White teammates when they inserted a coat hanger in his rectum after football practice. One student allegedly kicked the coat hanger multiple times.
“I screamed,” the victim testified. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little bit betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt.”
The state attorney filed sexual assault charges against the three alleged attackers on March 4 after months of investigation, according to MagicValley.com.
In early May, the alleged victim’s family filed a $10 million lawsuit naming Dietrich High School and 11 school administrators, including the school district superintendent, Benjamin Hardcastle, and football coach, Michael Torgerson.
The family said certain officials stood by and on occasion, encouraged racially motivated attacks and name-calling, including “Kool-Aid” “chicken eater,” “watermelon,” and the n-word.
Who is the alleged victim?
The victim remains unidentified because he is a minor. In the civil suit, his family says he suffers from “mental disorders including learning disabilities.”
He was adopted at age four by two White parents who have multiple children, according to the suit.
Heavy.com reports the student’s father, Tim McDaniel, teaches science at Dietrich High School. McDaniel was the subject of controversy in 2013 for teaching the human reproductive system in his classroom.
Who are the alleged suspects?
John R.K. Howard
John R.K. Howard, 18, is named in the suit as the ringleader. The family claims their child suffered multiple abuses at the hands of Howard.
The Washington Post writes:
“It was Howard who forced the victim to recite the words to “Notorious KKK,” a bitterly racist and violent rap song set to the tune of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Can’t You See,” the suit alleges.
It was Howard who, with his bare fists, knocked out the victim, who was made to wear boxing gloves, as teammates and coaches formed a circle around them, the suit says.
And it was Howard who kicked the coat hanger five or six times, causing the victim “rectal injuries” that required hospital treatment, the lawsuit claims.”
The suit mentions Howard’s size, saying he’s a “large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas.”
Howard’s father, also named John, is the assistant basketball coach at the school while his uncle, Acey Shaw, is the high school basketball coach, MagicValley.com reports.
Shaw was a high school basketball hero who was profiled in a documentary on ESPN.
According to The Post, which obtained the family’s civil suit, Howard will be charged as an adult with one count of forcible penetration by use of force or a foreign object. Howard hasn’t entered a plea, but a preliminary hearing is set for June 10.
If found guilty, he could face life in prison under Idaho’s law.
Ward, 17, was a wide receiver on the school’s football team. Ward faces the same charge as Howard and will be tried as an adult. According to the civil suit, Tanner was the culprit who forced the coat hanger into the victim’s rectum.
Authorities have withheld the last alleged attacker’s name because he is a minor. He will face trial in a juvenile court.