February 27, 2017 at 8:13 pm #27538VitalogyParticipant
A 19-year-old white man accused of kicking a coat hanger up the rectum of a mentally disabled black teammate received no jail time at his sentencing on Friday.
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.
Two other members of the football team were also charged in connection with the attack. The Idaho Statesman reports that the outcomes of their cases are sealed in juvenile court.
In addition to the criminal cases at the state level, the mentally disabled young man’s parents are also pursuing a federal civil case, which is still ongoing. “The truth will come out,” the family’s attorney in that case said, according to The Guardian.
Just imagine had this crime been committed by black person against a white victim.
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