Idaho school officials are being sued for civil rights violations after a Black student with mental disabilities was allegedly raped with a coat hanger by high school football players. The school officials in question have denied all allegations and say that the victim was "not vulnerable" to the attack. They are also demanding that the victim's family pay for their legal fees in a civil suit filed against the school.
The allegation comes from an incident on October 22, 2015, when the alleged victim was lured into the locker room at Dietrich High School and had a coat hangar forcibly shoved into his anus and kicked repeatedly by three white students: John R.K. Howard, 18 (pictured below), and Tanner Ward, 17, are being tried as adults and could face life in prison if convicted. The third unnamed student is being tried as a juvenile.
The victim's family claims that the victim was harassed and bullied for months leading up to the ultimate assault, and that no adult in power at the school did anything to stop it. The defendants in the lawsuit claim that the alleged victim did not notify anyone who could have done anything to stop the bullying.
The victim was diagnosed with learning disabilities and other mental disorders at a young age, and was placed into an individualized education program. Following the assault, the alleged victim needed hospital care to treat his injuries, and the victim's family told Buzzfeed that following the filing of the civil lawsuit against the school officials, the victim checked into a mental health facility.
The victim's family is also claiming that the victim faced verbal abuse as well, being called racist names for Black people, such as "chicken eater," "watermelon" and the n-word. The defendants in the civil suit, however, claim that the alleged victim was "well liked" by many of his classmates, and had friends on the football team.
Additionally, the victim's family believes the school officials tried to keep quiet on the whole incident. Dietrich City Mayor Donald Heiken said, “When this first happened, the community, it was hush hush. Nobody spoke about it at all.”
The defendants have now asked the judged to dismiss the civil rights violations charges, and requested that the victim’s family pay their legal fees.
It is disheartening to see those in charge trying to rid themselves of any responsibility when it comes to protecting those in the school system who need protection. This is a complicated case, and lawsuit. Hopefully the truth comes to light, and those responsible face justice.
(Photos from top: Rob Kuznia, Tarrant County Jail)