A 19-year-old white man who was accused of thrusting a coat hanger up the rectum of a mentally disabled Black teammate will receive no jail time. The defendant, John R.K. Howard, entered an “Alford plea,” which meant he maintained his innocence while admitting that a judge or jury would likely find him guilty. He also faced a sexual assault charge, but prosecutors stated that although they could prove Howard put the coat hanger into the victim’s rectum, they could not prove that it constituted a sex crime. District Judge Randy Stoker reduced the charges to a lesser crime.
In the sentencing on Friday, Stoker declined to give Howard jail time and only sentenced him to three years of probation with 300 hours of community service. He also discounted testimony that racial language was used during the attack. The whole court case involved a series of convoluted events including an unsolicited recording of the victim claiming his parents pressured him into pressing charges, then him retracting the statements in the recording. You can read about the case in detail via the Twin Falls Times-News.
Tim and Shelly McDaniels, the victims adoptive parents, where furious with the sentencing, especially after they were accused of fabricating the assault for financial gain. Advocates for the mentally disabled teen also perceived the lack of jail time for Howard as “a slap on the wrist for a privileged white teen who preyed on a disabled teammate from the only black family in town.”
This is an extremely sad story. Our thoughts go out to the victim.