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Idaho Assault Case Ends with No Jail Time
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John R. K. Howard

Summary: An Idaho high school student accused of assaulting a fellow football teammate was sentenced to probation despite the monstrosity of the attack.

An unusual assault case out of Idaho is tearing a small town apart. Former high school football player John R. K. Howard, 19, was accused of kicking a coat hanger into the rectum of a mentally disabled black teammate. The judge gave Howard no jail time for the alleged assault.


Howard entered an “Alford plea,” meaning he insists on his innocence but admits a judge or jury would likely find him guilty of the heinous act. Two other team members were charged for their involvement in the incident but were charged as juveniles with their cases sealed. Howard will serve probation and community service with the possibility of his conviction being entirely dismissed at a later date.

Supporters of the black player and his family, who happen to be the only black people in the small town of Dietrich, call the sentence “a slap on the wrist for a privileged white teen who preyed on a disabled teammate from the only black family in town.” The town has about 330 people.

Howard pleaded guilty to felony injury of a child but was originally charged with sexual assault. Prosecutors determined that even though they could prove that Howard kicked the coat hanger into the rectum of his teammate, the act was not a sex crime. District Judge Randy Stoker agreed.

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Judge Stoker discounted testimony of racist remarks aimed at the black player, concluding that the assault was not racially motivated.

The family is pursuing a federal civil case. They first reported the month-long racist bullying attack on their son to the school but the school did nothing. The victim’s mother, Shelly McDaniel, went to the administrators for help but was instead “shunned”. She claims that since Howard is a football star from a “prominent Dietrich family” no one would do anything. It was then that the family decided to take legal action.

The victim referred to his attackers as his “friends”, testifying that “one of his friends motioned for him to come over and hugged him while another player shoved a hanger into his anus. Howard then kicked the hanger, which pushed it further into his rectum.” Howard claims that he did not know the hanger was between the victim’s legs when he kicked him.

The victim also detailed events where Howard called him the n-word and taught him a KKK-glorifying song about lynching black people. Other members of the football team called him “watermelon,” “fried chicken,” and other racial slurs.

Unfortunately for the family, a video was taken of the victim claiming his parents put him up to testifying about the assault for a $10 million civil suit. The victim told his coaches in the recording, “I don’t think you guys should have to lose your farms. It was never my intention. I was fed stuff, fed lies.”

The video was taken by the coaches and football team in a pressured environment. Coaches Mike Torgerson and Rick Astle had been named as defendants in the civil lawsuit just six days before.  The victim continues to state in the recording, “I honestly don’t know who did the hanger thing. All I know is that it happened.”

Do you think Howard should have served jail time for the assault? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about other racially motivated incidents, read these articles:




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