According to media reports Wednesday, the parents of a Dietrich student have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Dietrich School District, charging the school failed to protect their son from escalating racially-based harassment and assaults that culminated in the teen being brutally raped with a coat hanger by fellow members of the football team.
As reported by KTVB, the victim, whose identity is not being released by , is black and has mental disabilities. His alleged attackers are white.
According to prosecutors, the sexual assault happened Oct. 23, 2015 in the high school locker room. The lawsuit describes one teammate pretending to offer the victim a hug, then holding him down as another boy inserted a coat hanger into his ******. A third attacker then kicked the coat hanger several times, forcing it farther into the victim’s body and causing rectal injuries that required treatment at a hospital, lawyers say.
“The Plaintiff screamed and cried out but no staff member came to his assistance or even attempted to investigate the clamor from within the locker room,” attorneys R. Keith Roark and E. Lee Schlender wrote in the filing.
The attorney general’s office filed charges against three students in March after a months-long investigation. John R. K. Howard and Tanner Ward are both charged as adults with forcible sexual penetration, and could face up to life in prison if convicted. The third student is charged as a juvenile.
Lawyers say the night of the rape was not the first time the black student, who was adopted by a Dietrich family as a child, had been targeted.
The victim, who according to his family suffers “mental disorders including learning disabilities,” testified last month that one of the attackers asked him for a hug, which was the signal for the attack to begin, according to The Magic Valley Times.
“I screamed,” the victim testified. “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.”
Howard and Tanner are being charged as adults, and face possible life sentences. The 16-year-old suspect is being charged as a juvenile.
The victim’s family also filed a $10 million lawsuit against the school and 11 school employees earlier this month. The lawsuit claims that the rape was the culmination of several racially charged bullying attacks against the victim, according to Courthouse News. Those incidents include:
Teammates routinely using racial slurs against the victim, including calling him “Kool-Aid,” “chicken eater,” “watermelon” and the N-word.
Teammates simulating anal sex on him during practice.
Teammates once stripping him naked and taking photos of him on a bus.
Coaches encouraging teammates to fight the victim, resulting in him being knocked unconscious.
Forcing the victim to recite a racist song called “Notorious KKK.”