A high school football player has been given 300 hours of community service with probation for his part in an attack on a mentally disabled black team-mate.
According to The Guardian, district judge Randy J Stoker on Friday accused the press and the public for misrepresenting what happened in a rural Idaho high school locker room on 22 October 2015, lamenting “people from the east coast have no idea what this case is about”.
John RK Howard (19) was previously charged with forcible penetration by use of a foreign object for an attack on a 17-year-old in the Dietrich High School locker room after football practice.
The victim's family said he was subjected to "racist abuse" and "bullying" in the months leading up to the attack which involved a coat hanger.
Judge Stoker ruled that the case was not "a rape case", according to The Guardian.
“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.
“In my view, this is not a case about racial bias,” the judge continued, addressing the pale young man at the defense table. “If I thought that you had committed this offense for racial purposes, you would go straight to the Idaho penitentiary.”
In response, an online campaign has been set up on Change.org to have the judge removed from the bench.
The victim’s mother said that the punishment “is a slap on the hand for him”, adding that for her son and her family it is “a slap in the face”.
The sentencing has caused uproar on social media, prompting comparisons to the Brock Turner case, where the 20-year-old Stanford student served just three months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.