Black Teen Tortured In Idaho Didn't Get Benefit Of Facebook Live

What if the abuse isn’t streamed live on social media?
01/06/2017 09:37 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2017

My social media feeds lit up today with the story of four black teens in the Chicago are who are being charged with hate crimes for their alleged* kidnapping and torturing of a mentally challenged white teen that they broadcast on Facebook Live.

It’s a horrific crime. The video is astonishing. The alleged* torturers said “fuck white people” and “fuck Trump” as they assaulted the bound teen. The hate crime charges are appropriate and I hope justice is served for that poor kid.

I just wish justice was also served for the mentally-challenged teen hate crime / torture victims whose abuse isn’t streamed live on social media.

The Idaho Teen Torturer Who Won’t See a Day in Jail.

Last year in Idaho. three white high school football players, aged 18, 17, and 17, allegedly restrained a mentally challenged 17-year-old black teen. In court documents it was alleged that one player held the teen, the second put a coat hanger between his ass cheeks, and the third kicked the hanger, lodging it in the teen’s rectum.

But the perpetrator charged as an adult, now-19-year-old John R. K. Howard, the alleged kicker of the hanger, won’t see any jail time. He was spared the felony penetration with a foreign object charge that could land him in prison for life and on the sex offender registry. Instead, the prosecution gave him a plea deal on a lesser charge of felony injury to a child.

The Idaho Deputy District Attorney prosecuting the case, Casey Hemmer, explained that he “[doesn’t] believe it is appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender.”

But Howard won’t even suffer the consequences for felony injury to a child, which can carry a sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. He just gets two-to-three years probation, 300 hours community service, and maintains his innocence through an Alford plea (”I’m sayin’ I didn’t do it, but you can probably prove I did in court.”) His felony conviction may even be wiped from his record if he completes probation.

That’s right, by the time John R. K. Howard is 24-years-old, he could have a spotless criminal record, like the injury to the child he pleaded guilty to just never happened.

They Tortured Him Because He’s Weak, Not Because He’s Black.

That’s important because there is a civil case pending by the family that includes allegations of hate crimes. From the KTVB story:

According to the family’s civil suit, the victim had been subjected to repeated physical bullying and racial taunts by Howard and other students, including being called “watermelon,” “chicken-eater,” and the N-word. The lawsuit also alleges Howard put a Confederate flag on the victim’s computer, and forced him to recite a racist song called “Notorious KKK.”

But there are no hate crime charges, because as Deputy DA Hemmer puts it, “We found a lot of things going around that school and the locker room involving a lot of the parties here that have racial undertones, but it’s not our belief this was a racially-motivated crime.”

Really? They put a Confederate flag on the computer of the only black kid in school and force him to sing a song with lyrics that include “twist niggers’ heads off” and “spics and niggers need to hang from trees”, and that’s just a racial undertone?

I’d hate to see what level of racial overtone would have to be achieved for Deputy DA Hemmer to charge someone with a hate crime. Because he doesn’t see the repeated racist taunts and abuse of this kid as something brought on out of racist hate. “This was more a vulnerable victim motivated crime,” said Hemmer. “I think it would have happened to anyone in the same kind of circumstance and mental state as the victim.”

Oh! They didn’t shove a coat hanger up his ass because he was black! They shoved a coat hanger up his ass because he was mentally challenged and physically weak! And racist taunts and songs at an Idaho high school, why, those are just everyday racial undertones, not an indication of a hate crime!

Why Is Idaho’s Deputy District Attorney Helping the Defense?

Hemmer’s explanations are all despicable enough rationalizations and excuses if they were coming from the defense attorney. At least you’d congratulate them on mounting an aggressive defense.

But Hemmer is the prosecutor and he’s making the case for the defense! Not just any local yokel county attorney, either, but the state’s 2nd-in-command prosecutor. Early on in the case, there was a change of venue out of that rural county to find someone without conflict of interest, because Mr. Howard is a local football star and his family is well-connected in the local politics.

Yet there’s the prosecutor, agreeing with the defense:

Hemmer said Howard then intentionally kicked the coat hanger, forcing it into the teen’s rectum. He noted that the defendant and his attorney maintained the kick was accidental. The defense attorney also told the judge he wanted to make it “crystal clear” that the “victim was not at any time pinned down, raped or pinned down and subjected to any sort of forcible penetration.” “That’s correct, there is no evidence that he was held down and had an object forcibly inserted into him,” Hemmer replied.

Sure. The mentally-challenged black teen, whom the three other teens had been racially taunting and abusing all year, was standing around in the locker room when, mysteriously, a coat hanger became wedged in-between his buttocks and, unaware of this development, Mr. Howard then accidentally intentionally swung his leg in that direction. The resulting contact with the hanger then caused it to become lodged in the teen’s rectum, which in no way should be considered a forcible penetration by a foreign object.

I guess if it wasn’t video recorded on Facebook Live, it didn’t happen.

* Seriously, do we have to say “alleged” when we can see the people doing it right there live on video?

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