High School Football Player Walks Free After Allegedly Raping Teammate With Coat Hanger
Late last year, we shared with you a story about a High School football player, who had allegedly kicked a wire hanger in the rectum of his mentally disabled teammate.
Pleading guilty to a lesser felony, 19-year-old John R.K. Howard was expected to serve two to three years of probation, and an estimated 300 hours of community service.
Last Friday, Howard was sentenced, and as anticipated, he is walking free.
Former high school football player John R. K. Howard entered a so-called "Alford plea," meaning he maintains his innocence while admitting a judge or jury would likely find him guilty. He was sentenced to probation and community service, and his conviction might be entirely dismissed at a later date.
The Twin Falls Times-News writes that supporters of the black player see the sentencing as "a slap on the wrist for a privileged white teen who preyed on a disabled teammate from the only black family in town."
Howard, who pleaded guilty to felony injury of a child, had originally been charged with sexual assault. But prosecutors later decided that, while they were confident they could prove Howard kicked the coat hanger into his teammate's rectum, the act did not constitute a sex crime. District Judge Randy Stoker agreed, and approved the plea deal for a lesser charge in December.
On Friday, as he issued the final sentencing, he also discounted testimony of racist remarks toward the black player and concluded that the assault was not racially motivated.
Occupy Democrats adds:
Despite the initial charges filed against Howard alleging rape, District Judge Randy J Stoker insisted that the forced penetration the victim suffered should not be considered forcible penetration with an object. The charges were changed to felony injury to a child, a less serious crime.
Stoker made these extraordinary remarks denying public accusations of rape and sexual assault:
“This is not a rape case. This is not a sex case. This started out as penetration with a foreign object … Whatever happened in that locker room was not sexual. It wasn’t appropriate. There’s nothing in this record that supports anything close to the sexual allegation against this young man.”
Idaho deputy-Attorney General Casey Hemmer backed Stoker up, saying:
“Based on continuing investigation throughout this case — interviewing of witnesses, speaking with the victim and getting a better picture of what happened in this case — the state believes this is the appropriate charge. 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. 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.”