Justice for Dietrich, Idaho rape victim
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On October 23, 2015, a black mentally disabled teen left his football field practice with teammates to the locker room.
Some time previous to this, one of his teammates, 18 year-old John R.K. Howard, had brought a Confederate flag to football practice and made the young black teen recite the song “Notorious KKK”. Other teammates had previously called the black mentally disabled teen racist epithets such as ‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and ‘nigger’.
Dietrich, Idaho football coaches had also “encouraged other players to fight the victim, allowing Howard to knock him unconscious as other students shouted “catcalls, taunts and racial epithets.”
“It was Howard who, with his bare fists, knocked out the victim, who was made to wear boxing gloves, as teammates and coaches formed a circle around them.”
There had also been a history of humiliation and abuse by Howard and another teammember, forcing the young teen into the showers and other rooms. The teen had been subjected to being:
“‘dry humped’ or simulated having sex with..”
On the afternoon of October 23, 2015 one of the young teen’s teammates “held out his arms after football practice in their high school locker room, the student thought he was about to get a hug”.
The teammate, assisted by another, restrained the young disabled teen, and after a coat hanger was viciously forced into the young teen’s rectum, 18 year-old John R.K. Howard violently kicked it multiple times.
John R.K. Howard, “a relative of prominent individuals in the community” and 16 year-old Tanner Ward were initially charged as adults with “forced sexual penetration” and the third teammate was charged as a minor. Tanner Ward cut a plea deal.
“Ward was 16 at the time of the alleged attack, but Idaho law mandates that juveniles age 14 to 18 accused of committing certain crimes on or near school campuses are charged as adults. Those crimes include rape and the charge that Ward faced, forcible sexual penetration by the use of a foreign object.”
The plea, and reduction from being tried as an adult, has implications for any sentence that Ward may receive. Reducing his charge to that of one as a “juvenile” would mean it would not meet the requisite of a felony and the case would be sealed. It also appears that Ward may have been the instigator.
“prosecutors have alleged that Howard kicked a hanger into the rectal opening of a teammate after Ward initially attacked the alleged victim with the hanger.”
In September of this year, incredibly, John R.K. Howard pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The prosecutor of the case, deputy attorney general Casey Hemmer, didn’t even attend the arraignment hearing, “and was instead patched through via telephone”.
On December 15, 2016 Howard pleaded guilty to “injury to a child” and even more incredulously, prosecutors said the crime was neither racially motivated or a sex crime.
He will receive two to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. He will also “have his conviction dismissed if he successfully completes probation without violations or committing new crimes. And by submitting an Alford plea, he maintains his innocence while acknowledging prosecutors would likely be able to win a conviction at trial.”
Howard had faced potentially being sentenced to life in prison if his original charge of forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object had been prosecuted by deputy attorney general Casey Hemmer. In Howard’s own plea advisory form, he had written there was “sufficient evidence for jury (sic) to convict me.”
Deputy attorney general Casey Hemmer also said, “We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender,” Hemmer said. “But he still needs to be held accountable.”
To repeat, Howard will receive two to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service and potentially “have his conviction dismissed if he successfully completes probation without violations or committing new crimes.”
In what can only be perceived as incredible, the court discussed how Howard has agreed to complete any classes recommended by his probation officer, “including a race-based sensitivity class and anti-bullying class, if they are available (my highlight).”
The Attorney General of Idaho, Lawrence Wasden, has been given community awards and recognition in the past for his work, including the protection of children and victim assistance. In 2011 he was awarded the “2011 Children’s Champion” for efforts to protect children from sexual abuse. He also appears to take pride in his work protecting children and teens from sexual violence: Safeguarding Idaho's Children.
The signatories of this petition demand the following of the Attorney General of Idaho, Lawrence Wasden.
- This petition would like him to investigate how his office has failed this black mentally disabled teen.
- The petition signatories ask for a comprehensive, full investigation, and all possible legal remedies to be made in this case to bring justice for the young teen who was raped.
- It asks your office to investigate whether John R.K. Howard can, at the very least, complete his probation within the community he has harmed. His community service should be in service to the community he has harmed in Idaho, not Texas.
- It asks for any internal staff reviews that may be required to ensure any cases such as this in the future are given the proper prosecutorial authority they deserve.
- We also ask that Attorney General Lawrence Wasden apologise to the teen and his family for the comments made by Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer at trial. Hemmer’s characterisation of the victim and the circumstances of the crime are incommensurate with these comments.
Hemmer: “I will say that there are things that we found going around that school and that locker room involving a lot of the parties here that had racial undertones. But it’s not our belief that this was a racially motivated crime. This was more of a vulnerable-victim motivated crime. I think it probably would have happened to anybody that was in the same kind of circumstances and mental state as the victim here (my highlight).”
Hemmer: “The other party in this case 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 (my highlight)… It’s the state’s contention that at some point, Mr. Howard purposely kicked that hanger.”
This characterises the victim as being part of an unfortunate accident, as if the victim met some kind of fateful inevitability. It is beyond offensive and should be apologised for.
A prosecutor who agrees with the defence is no prosecutor at all. The evidence in the case supports those exact claims.
“Howard’s attorney, Brad Calbo, agreed with Hemmer’s recounting of the state’s evidence but said “it needs to be crystal clear … that this victim was not at any time pinned down, raped, or pinned down and subjected to any sort of forcible penetration. Hemmer agreed, saying the evidence didn’t support those claims (my highlight).”
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