Justice

Judge's Definition of Rape Completely Misses the Point

February 27th 2017

By:
Almie Rose

A teenager in Idaho was just sentenced to 300 hours of community service for what many are calling an unjust punishment for rape — but the judge doesn't even think it's a rape case.

John R.K. Howard

John R.K. Howard was accused of sexually assaulting a teammate in the locker room at Dietrich High School in October 2015.

The 18-year-old, at the time, "physically forced a coat hanger into the plaintiff’s rectum," The Washington Post reported in May. The unnamed plaintiff, then 17, was a "developmentally disabled African American" teammate, according to The Guardian.

The Guardian goes on to describe the alleged incident, reporting that the victim thought a teammate wanted to hug him, and when he went to accept, "another player shoved a hanger into his anus. Then, the victim said, Howard kicked the hanger, which pushed it further into his rectum." 

The victim's family clamed he also endured racial taunts and insults as part of the abuse. "Howard taught him a song that glorified anal rape and the KKK, and members of the football team called him slurs including 'n****r', 'chicken eater', 'watermelon' and 'Kool-Aid'." This information came to light when the victim's family filed a civil lawsuit against Howard for "racial bullying and abuse," The Guardian reports. 

But the judge insists that the victim was not raped or racially discriminated against.

Howard was originally charged with a felony for sexual assault. The charge was later dropped and he accepted an Alford plea, which is basically a guilty plea but without admitting actual guilt to the crime committed.

"This is not a rape case," District Court Judge Randy Stoker said Feb. 24 during the sentence hearing, adding, "This is not a sex case. This started out as penetration with a foreign object ... Whatever happened in that locker room was not sexual. It wasn’t appropriate. There’s nothing in this record that supports anything close to the sexual allegation against this young man."

This is not the first time the Idaho judge was accused of not understanding rape.

He sentenced a teenager convicted of statutory rape to a similar light sentence adding the bizarre "celibacy clause" in which, according to Feb. 6 news report, he stated: "If you’re ever on probation with this court, a condition of that will be you will not have sexual relations with anyone except who you’re married to, if you’re married."

But rape and "sexual relations" are two different things. In the case of Howard, Stoker makes a similar error of stating it "was not sexual," again, disregarding that rape is not a sexual act, but an act of violence.

Furthermore, Stoker stated "[...] this is not a case about racial bias," saying during sentencing, "if I thought that you had committed this offense for racial purposes, you would go straight to the Idaho penitentiary."

There is currently an active petition on Change.org to remove Stoker from the bench.