From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Non-Sexual Coat-Hanger Rape

coat-hanger

What’s going on here? We may not  know enough to be sure, but one thing is certain: Deputy Attorney General Casey Hammer’s brain and mouth are not connected to his ethics alarms. Maybe the whole Idaho Attorney General’s office has the same problem.

In 2015, charges were brought against  three white Dietrich, Idaho high school football players alleging that they attacked and sexually assaulted a black, mentally disabled teammate. John R.K. Howard, then 18, was charged as an adult and accused of thrusting a coat-hanger into the anus of the boy while the others held him.

Now 19,  Howard was allowed last week to avoid jail time in exchange for an Alford plea, a device allowed in some states, in which he acknowledges that he would have likely been found guilty in trial but doesn’t admit his guilt.  He pleaded to a single felony count of injury to a child, for which he will be sentenced to only two to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. In my state, serious traffic violations can get harsher punishment than that.

Deputy Attorney General Casey Hammer “explained” that while Howard’s behavior was “egregious” and caused the victim “a lot of suffering,” it was not a really a sex crime, and so his office agreed to dropping the charge to the lesser felony. This means that in Idaho, apparently, kicking a hanger into a male victim’s rectum doesn’t qualify as rape. I wonder if any object being kicked into someone’s rectum is similarly immune from the charge. Would someone who kicked a hanger into a woman’s vagina be called rape? How about if the assailant was black and the victim was white?

Incredibly, Hemmer’s commentary got worse. “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.”

Heaven forbid that that a student who does this to a disabled team mate while he is being held by two other students should suffer. We can’t have that.

Not only will  Howard avoid prison or jail time, he could eventually have his conviction dismissed if he successfully completes probation without violations or committing new crimes. By copping to an Alford plea, he doesn’t even have a guilty plea on his record, either. You might find yourself hiring this guy some day, and I doubt that he’ll mention that he brutalized a kid with a coat-hanger in his interview.

For those who wonder why the justice system is criticized and accused of having a racial bias, this case is a good one to ponder, particularly in light of Hemmer’s jaw-dropping statement. The original charge by the state Attorney General’s office was  “felony forcible penetration by use of a foreign object,” which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sounds appropriate to me!  The assault took place inside a high school locker room. One of Howard’s henchmen grabbed the disabled team member under the pretense of giving him a hug, and restrained him while Howard “physically forced a coat-hanger into the plaintiff’s rectum,” court records say. Howard allegedly kicked the coat-hanger several times while it was inside the boy.

According to Twin Falls Times-News‎, the victim testified during an April preliminary hearing…

“I screamed. I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little bit betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt.”

Not surprisingly, he required medical treatment.

The victim’s family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the school, administrators and coaches for  failing to stop the abuse. It claims that the victim had long been bullied by Howard and other teammates, “taunted and called racist names by other members of the team, which names included ‘Kool-Aid.’ ‘chicken eater,’ ‘watermelon,’ and ‘nigger.” It also claims the teen was subjected to wedgies, simulated anal sex and “aggressive humping.”

“Mr. Howard is a large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas,” the suit says.

During a preliminary hearing, one of the other attacker’s lawyer  had said the victim’s account was at odds with statements by other witnesses, and that the testimony was  “so inherently conflicting so as not to prove the event.”  My first thought when reading about the case was that prosecutors made a plea bargain because they feared that they couldn’t prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This may be what happened, but if so, Hemmer’s statement was even worse than it seems. If the state believes that Howard did what the investigation found that he almost certainly did, how can he be held properly “accountable” when his punishment is minimal? How can what he did not be regarded as rape? When the accusation is made that the state would never allow a black student who anally raped a white boy with a coat-hanger to avoid prison, what rebuttal does the state have after allowing an Alford plea, which acknowledges that the defendant would have been likely convicted?

As those words came out of his mouth, the ethics alarms should have sounded so loudly that Hemmer’s head exploded. He doesn’t  “believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender”? What the hell is the matter with him? A vulnerable child was gang-raped with a coat-hanger, humiliated, betrayed and brutalized. Does his suffering matter? How can a prosecutor even compose  such a cruel, stupid, insensitive statement without stopping and thinking, “Wait, what am I saying? This will make people trust the fairness and competence of the justice system even less than they already do, and make it seem like we are more concerned with the criminal than his victim when the victim is black!”

Yup.

________________________

Pointer: Little Green Footballs

Facts: Huffington Post, Daily Kos 1, 2

 

25 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

25 responses to “From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Non-Sexual Coat-Hanger Rape

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Actually Tanner Ward inserted the hanger, according to the link, but Howard kicked it. Howard had his chance to keep his hands clean and let it all fall on Ward, but he kicked a hanger that was already insulted into someone’s rectum five or six times. Maybe if you split legal hairs that’s not sexual assault because he himself didn’t insert the hanger, but I think that is too thin a hair to split.

    I just don’t get how anyone can look the other way, or minimize this behavior. Bullying has long been ignored and underpunished, and I can’t grasp why anyone would look the other way on giving “wedgies,” “purple nurples,” or “grungkies” (the equivalent of a wedgie, but where you grab the front, rather than the back, of someone’s underwear and pull up), or “the Southeast Asian geography lesson” (“Hey, what’s the capital of Thailand?) unless they’d never experienced any of this.

    The judge should NOT let this plea go through.

  2. dragin_dragon

    We all know that racial prejudice still exists, but I did not expect to see it demonstrated so admirably by a high-ranking legal professional. I am aghast. Hopefully, this clown is elected and, hence, subject to being ‘un-elected’ at some point in the future. If he is appointed, whoever appointed him should be un-elected.

    • Well, there’s no *proof* that Hemmer acted out of racial prejudice. I think Jack mentions race because situations like this don’t help the *perception* of the justice system in regards to racial bias.

  3. This is the first I’ve ever heard of an Alford Plea.

    Is there a legitimate time and place for one of these pleas, or are they inherently unethical and a weak means to avoid a costly trial?

  4. MONSTROUS! – both the criminal act and Hemmer’s ethics abandonment.

    I hope the victim has healed completely – and I hope that in any case, he will receive ample damages, sufficient to afford hit men for the prompt and merciless dispatch of any person who bullies him in the future.

  5. Other Bill

    I hope this scene from Blazing Saddles comes through.

    Merry Christmas and/or happy holidays to Jack and all the commentersl.

  6. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    I *believe* defense counsel was arguing that this was an assault more than a rape since there was no want of sexual gratification on the part of the attackers — which is still ludicrous.

    I wonder, could Bill Cosby offer a similar defense? “Well, yes, I drugged her and proceeded to touch her inappropriately; but, you see, I didn’t get off. So, it can’t really be called ‘rape.'”

    All that said, the sex offender registry (at least the way it’s done here in Texas) is a complete clusterf@*# and I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to end up on it — that is, unless I knew Mr. Howard and his friends.

    -Neil

  7. Spartan

    These boys are monsters.

  8. Wayne

    Too bad Howard will probably get off with probation and community service. He richly deserves the “plunger treatment” administered by some inmates ala Linda Blair in “Born innocent”.

    • Jeez, what’s gotten into everyone? It’s Christmastime! Plungers?

    • dragin_dragon

      And, Wayne, I basically agree. This was not about anything sexual…this was about humiliating and “punishing” a young man from a different race and a “different” physical or mental level (I have no idea what his disability was, and it shouldn’t matter). Thus, it was a brutal, sadistic act, probably done because “It’ll be fun”, and therefore, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Yes, there is no proof that the prosecutor was racially motivated, but the offenders were young, white males and the victim was not, nor was he functioning in a ‘normal’ manner. QED.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      You mean like Justin Volpe did to Abner Louima? Yikes.

  9. Other Bill

    I guess I’m not the only one suspecting this is a Mormon community circling the wagons around these monsters (Sparty’s term). See, eg., https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/4kznoj/racist_attack_in_dietrich_idaho/

  10. This story sickens me. I have been educating special Ed students for 30 years. I have taught the bullying prevention programs at the elementary and middle school levels. Now I am working with high school students. The way in which that hanger was used constitutes a serious crime. It was not sexual but brutal and cruel, to humiliate the victim in a way beyond physical pain or embarrassment. The offenders should be prosecuted as adults for their actions to the fullest extent of the law. A message of zero tolerance needs to be given loud and clear to any person condidering such a crime against humanity. It makes me physically ill to think about the victim and the scars that might never heal.

  11. Remember this?

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2016/12/01/no-charges-in-the-keith-scott-shooting-and-an-ethics-test-for-black-lives-matter/

    More discouraging evidence that, as should have been obvious from the first but was strangely perceivable to people like Barack Obama and members of the Democratic National Committee, this “movement” is really a platform for anti-white racism and less concerned with legitimate reform than intimidation, came from Ohio State, scene of the recent terrorist attack. In a Kaboom!-worthy Facebook post (above), the Ohio State University assistant director of residence life, Stephanie Clemons Thompson, urged her followers to have compassion for the Somali refugee killer, Abdul Razak Artan, who had expressed a desire “to kill a billion infidels” and then carried out a car and knife attack on the Ohio State Campus. She also urged people to “think of the pain he must have been in,” and used the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHisName, which BLM uses to denote victims of police racism and brutality.

    Casey Hammer is actually worse than Stephanie Clemons Thompson, because he actually has the power to implement the criminal justice policies they support.

  12. KD

    But what can we, as concerned citizens, do? The violent perpetrators are likely sociopathic sex criminals who will brutalize many more vulnerable people. This AG should have to hear from psychologists, this AG should HAVE to attempt to prosecute this is a more serious crime, and this judge should be disbarred if he (likely a he) allows these sick young men to walk. And people go to jail for shoplifting bread…. The community should rise up and force the AG out.

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