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The white football player who was the ringleader in a vicious sexual assault on a black mentally disabled teammate will not be put in jail or have to register as a sex offender. Idaho prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
On Friday, John R.K. Howard pleaded guilty to a single felony count of injury to a child after he and two other teammates violently attacked the 18-year-old victim.
The horrific incident happened on October 23, 2015 when Howard, Tanner Ward and a third football player who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, pretended to give the disabled victim a hug. That is when they held him down and sodomized him with a coat hanger.
According to reports, the juvenile attacker then “kicked the coat hanger several times, forcing it farther into the victim’s body and causing rectal injuries that required treatment at a hospital.”
The sexual assault came after months of race-related bullying and discrimination against the victim. He was called “Kool-Aid,” “chicken-eater “ and the N-word by his fellow teammates.
Howard who has been called the ringleader “also posted a confederate flag on the plaintiff’s computer and demanded he learn and recite a racist song titled “Moonman Notorious KKK.”
Thanks to the plea deal, Howard will serve no jail time and chances are he will be able to have his conviction dismissed once he has successfully completed his probation.
Prosecutors have recommended he get at least 300 hours of community service for the rape committed. They also allowed him to maintain his innocence even though he pleaded guilty.
According to Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer, the behavior of the attackers was “egregious” it didn’t constitute a sex crime.
“We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender,” Hemmer stated. “But he still needs to be held accountable.”
The victim has a $10 million civil lawsuit pending against the district for its “deliberate indifference” towards the victim and his safety.
“Mr. Howard is a relative of prominent individuals in the community and, at least in part due to his athletic ability and community connections, the Defendants ignored or were deliberately indifferent to the behavior of Mr. Howard which included aggression, taunting and bullying of The Plaintiff and other students in the District,” according to the civil lawsuit. “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.”