3 White Football Players Charged with Raping Disabled Black Teammate with Coat Hanger

John R.K. Howard, 18. Courtesy of Tarrant County, Texas

John R.K. Howard, 18. Courtesy of Tarrant County, Texas

A group of white high school students in Dietrich, Idaho, have been charged with brutally raping a disabled Black classmate, the Washington Post reports.

Three teens and the victim played football together at Dietrich High School, where the alleged sexual assault took place on Oct. 23 in the locker room after practice.

Prosecutors said one player restrained the victim while another forced a coat hanger into the his rectum. A third player allegedly kicked the hanger five or six times.

The Lincoln County community is 90 percent white, with a population of 332, as of the 2010 Census.

School trustees expelled two students in November following the incident, per the Times-News. At that time, Dietrich School District Superintendent Ben Hardcastle said he was unsure whether a coach was in the room at the time of the incident.

“There’s an expectation that coaches will supervise students in locker rooms,” he said in an interview with the local publication. “But deciding what type of supervision is needed is tricky. Coaches typically come and go but don’t stand guard while students are showering and changing.”

The state Attorney General’s office filed sexual assault charges against all three in March. John R.K. Howard, 18, and Tanner Ward, 17, will be tried as adults under an Idaho law that demands it for all juveniles ages 14 to 18 accused of committing certain crimes on or near school grounds. An unnamed 16-year-old was charged as a juvenile.

The victim’s family has filed a $10 million civil suit against the high school, administrators and coaches, alleging officials failed to intervene after months of racial and physical abuse against the 18-year-old boy. The victim, who suffers from “mental disorders including learning disabilities,” was adopted by white parents at the age of 4.

The Post obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which identifies Howard as the principal offender.

“Mr. Howard is a large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas,” the claim states.

Officials turned a blind eye to Howard’s aggressive behavior toward the victim and other students because of his athletic prowess and deep family connections, according to the complaint.

“With deliberate indifference, the Defendants did nothing to curb the vicious acts of Mr. Howard who brought with him from Texas a culture of racial hatred towards the Plaintiff.”

Howard faces a felony count of forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. He has not entered a plea for his scheduled June 10 preliminary hearing.

The Times-News reports the victim gave his account of the incident at a hearing in April.

He testified Howard and Ward began the harassment during football practice that day, giving him a “power wedgie” that tore his boxers. Later in the locker room, the 16-year-old lured him in with the promise of a hug.

“I screamed,” he said. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little bit betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt.”

Ward, also charged with a felony count of forcible penetration, was arraigned in district court on Monday. His trial is set for September 26.

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