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An Idaho judge sentenced a high school football player to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service after prosecutors said he took part in a brutal locker room assault on a black football player.

Judge Randy Stoker is now speaking out and responding to people who feel that the sentence was too light for the perpetrator, 19-year-old John R.K. Howard. The judge accused the press (and public) for misrepresenting what happened, saying the case is not about “rape” or “sex” and that “people from the east coast have no idea what this case is about.”

Howard, who is being accused of anally penetrating a black, mentally disabled high schooler with a hanger, will skip jail time although there’s some evidence that supports the assumption that the attack was race related. Judge Stoker told The Guardian, “This is not a rape case. 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.” He added that the victim “was not targeted, which dispels in my view any claim of a racial incident. Another individual who was involved said [the victim] was called ‘fried chicken’ because [he] said it was his favorite food. I don’t think it’s a racial slur.”

Following his light sentencing, Judge Stoker is now the subject of a change.org petition to have him removed from the bench in Idaho with almost 150,000 signatures as of press time. The NAACP Tri-State Conference of Idaho-Nevada-Utah has also asked the Idaho U.S. Department of Justice last week to conduct an independent investigation into the case.

 

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