High school football player gets probation in brutal case of bullying inside locker room

Black victim had coat hanger shoved in rectum
Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 24, 2017

An Idaho judge has sentenced a high school football player to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service after prosecutors said he took part in a brutal locker room assault on a black football player.

Boise's KIVI was in the courtroom when District Court Judge Randy Stoker issued his decision Friday. The judge said this was not a case of rape, sex or racism, but rather bullying.

John R.K. Howard of Keller, Texas, was originally charged with sexually assaulting his classmate after prosecutors said he kicked a coat hanger into the victim's rectum during the October 2015 incident at Dietrich High School.

But in December, Howard pleaded guilty to felony injury to a child as part of a modified guilty plea, in which he acknowledged he would be found guilty in a trial but maintained his innocence.

Statement from Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden:

“As a result of today’s sentencing hearing, the defendant has now pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for a felony crime. In light of the provable facts, this result is an appropriate conclusion to a difficult case.  My thoughts continue to be with the victim and his family and my hope is that today’s sentencing will help them put this matter behind them."

“Our system seeks justice for crime victims. The decision to arrive at a plea agreement was based on many things, including a desire to protect the victim, the family’s desire to prevent their son from having to testify during a trial, as well as the victim’s family wanting a felony conviction for the defendant. The decision took those requests into account and was based on the admissible evidence in the case and what the law requires to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

“As a prosecutor, my job is to determine the admissible and relevant facts of a case and then prosecute accordingly. While this has been a traumatic event for the victim and his family, I must hold the facts of the case up against Idaho law."

“I want to express my appreciation to the investigators, prosecutors and the judge in this case for their work to balance the needs of justice, including the victim’s protection."

“It is my duty to protect the victim and hold the perpetrator accountable. Those two obligations have been met.”

Documents related to the case are available here.