High school football players from small-town Idaho face accusations of a disturbing racially motivated sexual assault in which an 18-year-old black teammate with a learning disability was allegedly lured into a hug, only to have a coat hanger shoved up his rectum and twisted by kicking.
The alleged assault, which happened in the fall of 2015, was carried out by three students, two of whom have been named since they are being tried as adults.
Eighteen-year-old John Howard, pictured above, and 17-year-old Tanner Ward may face life in prison. A third participant, 16, is being charged as a juvenile.
The victim in the matter testified last month about the traumatic experience that resulted in a trip to the hospital.
“I screamed. I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt,” he said. The victim says that his three alleged assailants laughed as they shoved a coat hanger up his rectum and kicked it “five or six times.”
His family has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Dietrich High School, accusing 11 school officials of negligence.
Part of the lawsuit alleges that, on top of a the savage assault, there was a racial element and a separate bus incident in which the accuser was stripped naked and photographed.
Howard, considered the ringleader, allegedly forced the victim to sing a Ku Klux Klan-themed song called “Notorious KKK,” the New York Daily News reported. On top of that, he was reportedly “taunted and called racist names by other members of the team which names include ‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and n—-r.”
According to MagicValley.com, the attorney for Ward made a closing argument calling into question the consistency of the accuser’s story.
Attorney Michael J. Wood called the testimony “so inherently conflicting so as not to prove the event.” Deputy Attorney General Brenda Bauges agreed that there were “some discrepancies” and so did the judge.
But the judge also said “the essential element was established by [the victim].” Thus, the case is moving forward.
As stated before, the charges are so serious that Howard and Ward could face life in prison. Howard hasn’t entered a plea and is set to appear at a preliminary hearing on June 10, while Ward’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 26.