Three white high school football players have been accused of raping a disabled, black teammate with a coat hanger. The teenagers allegedly forced the 18-year-old to the ground in the locker room as one assaulted him with the coat hanger and another kicked it several times.
The football players, aged 18, 17, and 16, at Dietrich High School in Idaho have been charged with sexual assault.
The alleged victim has learning difficulties and is the only black player on the high school football team.
Promising athlete John Howard is allegedly the ring leader of the group and is believed to be the teenager who kicked the coat hanger.
Tanner Ward, who is 17 but has been charged as an adult, is also accused of assaulting the teammate with the coat hanger.
The 16-year-old has been charged as a juvenile. Both Howard and Ward could face life in prison.
A lawsuit filed against the school states: ‘Several of the plaintiff’s teammates, students at the Dietrich School, physically accosted the plaintiff.’
The lawsuit, claims the teenager cried out for help, but no member of school staff bothered to check what was happening, leaving him ‘to fend for himself in an extremely hostile environment’.
The $10million lawsuit filed by the young man’s family claims the incident on October last year was not the first time he was targeted by the group.
The suit, filed against the school and 11 members of staff but not Howard or Ward, claims officials turned a blind eye to months of abuse aimed at the disabled boy.
Howard is ‘large and aggressive’ and was sent from Texas to Idaho to live with relatives to keep him out of trouble, according to the lawsuit.
The black student was called a ‘n*****’, a ‘chicken eater’, ‘Kool-Aid’ and ‘watermelon’, as well as a litany of other racial slurs, it is alleged.
He also claims in the lawsuit that teammates would ‘hump’ him and simulate anal sex by jumping on him from behind during football practice.
The teammates are also alleged to have stripped the teenager naked on a bus and taken photographs of him naked.
He was also allegedly forced to sing a Ku Klux Klan song called Notorious KKK, which Howard learned when he lived in Texas, as the other players displayed a Confederate flag, according to the Washington Post.
The black teenager also claims that Howard beat him unconscious at a training camp designed to ‘toughen up’ the team.
Howard was bare-knuckled but the alleged victim was made to wear boxing gloves, he claims.
‘The beating of the plaintiff was accompanied by catcalls, taunts and racial epithets of the football players/students in full view of the coaches who not only failed to prevent the abuse but actively promoted it,’ the lawsuit states.
Other students are alleged to have given the boy wedgies and drew a picture of him sitting at the back of a bus on a classroom chalkboard.
The family of the alleged victim only found out about the coat hanger incident after his younger brother heard about it later that day and told his parents. The teenager was then taken to hospital for treatment.
Howard and Tanner were arrested and charged with sexual assault, as was the unnamed 16-year-old.
‘It was as brutal an attack as I have seen in my 40 years as a prosecutor,’ the family’s attorney, Keith Roark, said.
The family are seeking $10million as compensation for civil rights violations, negligence and racial discrimination.
Daily Mail Online has contacted Dietrich High School and the school board for comment.
Howard will next appear in court on June 10. Ward’s trial is set to begin on September 26.