Alleged ringleader arraigned in Dietrich rape case

John Howard is accused of raping a teammate in a locker room at Dietrich High School.

GOODING, IDAHO - The ringleader of an alleged locker room sexual assault in Dietrich was arraigned in court today.

John R.K. Howard and two other boys are accused of raping a disabled teammate with a coat hanger after football practice last fall.

The victim's family says the boy was targeted because he is black.

Howard was the last of the three boys accused in this Dietrich High School assault to be arraigned, and at 18 years old, he is the only one charged as an adult in this case.

Today Howard pleaded not guilty to felony charges of forcible penetration with a foreign object for that alleged locker room rape last October.

This was the first time we got a look at Howard in person -- the victim's attorney calling him the ringleader in this attack, the one whose idea it was to rape the victim with a coat hanger.

Howard remained stoic throughout this afternoon's brief, five-minute arraignment -- showing little emotion as the judge read him the charges and the possible sentence they carry.

"The maximum penalty of which is imprisonment in the state penitentiary for life and/or a fine up to $50,000. Other significant consequences are that the defendant would be required to register as a sex offender for life," said Fifth District Judge Eric Wildman.

In addition to the criminal charges against Howard and the two other defendants, the victim's family is also pursuing a civil lawsuit against the Dietrich School District.

The family seeks damages in the amount of $10 million, saying the victim endured months of cruelty and racial discrimination by these three boys well before the attack, and school officials should've done more to stop it.

The civil case accuses Howard of hanging a Confederate flag on the victim's computer and forcing him to learn racist songs associated with the KKK.

This all before the alleged sexual assault on Oct. 23, 2015.

Last week, the Idaho Attorney General's Office dropped felony charges against 17-year-old Tanner Ward in this assault.

Ward, and a third defendant -- who has not been named -- will still be charged criminally, but in juvenile court.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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