In this week’s white male athlete privilege news, John R.K. Howard, an 18 year old former Idaho high school football player, has been permitted to plead guilty and escape jail time for a rape he committed in October 2015.
On October 22, 2015, Howard, along with two other teammates, raped black mentally disabled teammate, Antwon McDaniel, in the Dietrich High School locker room with a coat hanger. Howard was originally charged with “forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object.” On the day of the attack, McDaniel said he was “lured into the locker room by his teammates who said they wanted to give him a hug.” When McDaniel arrived in the locker room, another teammate of Howard and McDaniel’s stuck a coat hanger into McDaniel’s butt. Howard reportedly then kicked the hanger 5-6 times.
While the two other teammates involved are underage and therefore being tried in juvenile court, Howard was 18 at the time of the attack and was therefore tried this past Friday as an adult. He was told by prosecutors that if he agreed to a deal that required him to plead guilty to one count felony injury to a child, he would be able to skip out on jail time but will be sentenced to two to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service. But, he could also have his conviction completely dismissed if he completes the above requirements without violating probation or committing any other crimes during the duration of his sentencing. Howard took the plea deal.
On Friday, Deputy State Attorney General Casey Hemmer agreed that the crime caused the victim a lot of suffering but based on the evidence the prosecution believed that McDaniel was not, “pinned down and subjected to any sort of forcible penetration.”
“We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender. But he still needs to be held accountable.”
Hemmer supports this decision by claiming that “there wasn’t really any supervision in [the locker room] at the time,” he continues, “the other party…that has pled guilty in juvenile court took a coat hanger and either inserted or swung or in some way caused it to become lodged in the victim’s buttocks.”
The state of Idaho does not believe that the crime was “racially motivated,” although they investigated the school and found some evidence that linked to some kind racial undertones. The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence reacted to Howard’s light sentence on Facebook claiming, “the actions by the football players and Dietrich High School were racist, a climate where hate and ugliness were tolerated. This was racism.”
The McDaniel family have a $10 million civil lawsuit against the school district and administrators and coaches at Dietrich High. Their reason for this lawsuit involves the severe bullying and harassment McDaniels has endured these past few months and the lack of faculty interjection and help, racial slurs made to their son, and the claim that the defendants were all fully aware of the crime they were committing.
Howard is scheduled to be sentenced on February 24, 2017.