A White Idaho high school football player charged with sexually assaulting a mentally disabled Black teammate will walk away basically unpunished.
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The Washington Post reports that John R.K. Howard pleaded guilty Friday to a lesser felony charge, so the prosecutor dropped the sex crime charges.
By pleading guilty to injuring a child, Howard, 19, avoids prison and registering as a sex offender. Instead, he faces two to three years of probation and up to 300 hours of community service, The Post reported. A judge will sentence him in February.
The Idaho attorney general’s office originally charged Howard with sexual assault in May. In October 2015, Howard and two high school teammates held the victim down, shoved a coat hanger into the victim’s rectum and kicked the hanger several times.
However, the prosecutor had a change of heart about the sex assault charge after further investigation. The state’s attorney now says the violent assault did not constitute a sex crime and accepted Howard’s plea.
“It was egregious behavior, it caused this victim a lot of suffering, but it is not, in my view, a sex crime, which is why the state has amended this charge,” Deputy State Attorney General Casey Hemmer told the court on Friday. “We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender, but he still needs to be held accountable.”
The victim’s family, which filed a $10 million lawsuit against Dietrich High School, is enraged.
“It’s absolutely preposterous that this kid should walk away with apparently no punishment whatsoever,” the family’s attorney R. Keith Roark told The Post on Monday. “Everyone is more concerned with these young sociopaths than the victim of their violence.”
The victim and his family are the only Black people in Dietrich, Idaho, a town of about 330 people. He has endured vicious racist taunts and bullying at school.
Roark protested the decision and demanded an explanation from the prosecutor’s office.
SOURCE: Washington Post