District Court Judge Randy Stoker sentenced John R.K. Howard to three years probation and 300 hours of community service for raping a black teammate on his football team with a coat hanger, AP reports.
Stoker granted a withheld judgment, so Howard’s conviction could be eventually dismissed.
Howard was originally charged with sexually assaulting his teammate, but plead down to a modified guilty plea, acknowledging he’d be found guilty in a trial while refusing to admit his guilt.
Howard’s attorney, Brad Calbo, said rape and racism weren’t involved in the assault, and accused the victim’s family of making things up for money.
“The racist stuff, it’s not there,” Calbo said. “They’re absurd allegations … this has all been blown out of proportion for the pursuit of money.”
Howard allegedly kicked the hanger into the victim, but there are discrepancies from witnesses over how the assault developed.
In defending Howard, Calbo pointed to a statement the victim gave recanting his original accounts of the assault. Investigations show the victim was under pressure from other students who told him, “they were going to lose their farms if the civil suit kept going and the town would fall apart,” according to the documents.
In the recording where the victim recants, students and teammates can be heard telling the victim they love him and he needs to tell the truth.
“All that stuff, I just made up,” the victim said of the recording. “I just started telling a bunch of just lies because I wanted my friends back.”
(image via Fox 4 screengrab)