Rolling Out

White football players jailed for raping Black teammate after racial abuse

Photo: Lincoln County Jail (John Howard)

For months, several White football players at Dietrich High School in Dietrich, Idaho used racial slurs to intimidate a Black teammate. The racial intimidation eventually led to a brutal rape.

According to charges filed by Idaho’s Attorney General’s office, the sexual attack occurred during the school’s football season in 2015. While in the locker room after football practice, one White football player opened his arms as if he wanted to hug the Black player. Once the Black player embraced his teammate, the White teen restrained the Black player. Another White teen pulled the Black teen’s pants down and inserted a coat hanger into his rectum. Another White teen, John Howard,  kicked the hanger five times pushing the hanger deeper into the Black teen’s rectum and causing severe injuries.

The Black teen’s parents filed a $10 million lawsuit against the school. According to the lawsuit, the Black teenager faced racism from teammates before the incident, but coaches and school officials never attempted to stop the racial abuse.

The White teens called the Black teenager “Kool Aid,” “Chicken Eater,” “Watermelon,” and the N-word months before he was raped. The coaches also allowed other White teens to fight and taunt the Black teen. In one incident, the Black teen was knocked unconscious by another White teen and the coaches encouraged the abuse.

The White teens would also grab the Black teen and aggressively hump him in an attempt to simulate anal sex and they once stripped him naked and took photos of him. John Howard, the apparent ring leader, once forced the boy to sing lyrics to the racist song “Notorious KKK,” while holding a Confederate flag.

It was the ongoing abuse that proves that the coaches and school officials are just as guilty as those who participated in the crime. Their failure to protect the Black student was a form of gross negligence and charges should be filed against school officials.

The three teens who were involved in the attack face sexual assault charges and two of the teens, Howard and Tanner Ward, face life in prison. The real question is what will a jury of their “peers” actually give them?

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