The high school student accused of kicking a coat hanger into the rectum of his disabled teammate will face no jail time, NPR reports.
We previously reported, Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer filed sexual assault charges against John R. K. Howard and two of his teammates in May, claiming they held the victim down and shoved a coat hanger into his rectum and then allegedly kicked the hanger several times. They were also accused of bullying the victim, using racial slurs to taunt the minor.
In December, 19-year-old Howard plead guilty to injury to a child–entering an ‘Alford plea’ that allows him to maintain his innocence while admitting a judge or jury would find him guilty, according to NPR. Prosecutors decided later on the act did not constitute a sex crime.
During sentencing on Friday, Howard was sentenced to probation and community service, with the possibility of his conviction being dismissed at a later date. Two other members of the football team were charged in connection with the assault, but their litigations are tied to juvenile court.
The decision has disrupted the town of Dietrich, Idaho where the crime took place. The Twin Falls Times-News wrote that supporters of the victim see the sentence as a “a slap on the wrist for a privileged white teen who preyed on a disabled teammate from the only black family in town.” Some members of the community believe Howard’s football star reputation and “ties to a prominent’ family in the city led the judicial system to go easy on him, despite the crime.