John R.K Howard, 19, of Keller, Texas escaped a 10 year prison sentence and $50,000 fine for the 2015 sexual assault of a black mentally disabled teen on the school’s high school football team. Instead, Howard, who according to court reports kicked a hanger into the victim’s rectum, will most likely be given 300 hours of community service and two or three years probation. If he abides by his probation and doesn’t commit a new crime, the charges can be dismissed from his record.
According to the Times-News, Howard submitted an Alfred plea, which allows him to maintain his innocence while acknowledging had the case gone to trial, the jury would’ve had enough evidence to convict. Howard could’ve faced life in prison on a previous felony charge of forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object, but instead pled guilty to a lesser felony count of injury to a child.
Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer offered a detailed explanation of Howard’s considerably lesser punishment last week, and Hemmer also told Judge Randy Stoker that while the victim suffered and Howard’s actions were vile and reprehensible, somehow this doesn’t fall under the guidelines of a sex crime, which means Howard doesn’t have to register as a sex offender.
“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.”
Despite the outcome in the court, a $10 million civil lawsuit filed by the victim is making its way through the U.S. District Court. It claims the locker room attack was the final straw after “severe and pervasive harassment, racial discrimination, mental and physical assault and battery.” The civil suit claims Howard humped and taunted the victim, forced him to learn a Klu Klux Klan song while displaying a Confederate flag, knocking him unconscious during a football camp and coaches and players allegedly formed a circle and cheered using language such as “Kool-Aid, chicken-eater, watermelon and n****r.”