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Settlement Reached in Dietrich Sex Assault Lawsuit

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- In Dietrich, population 330, the community’s social life revolves around the local convenience store, Eagle’s Nest restaurant and high school football. -  - CARISSA WOLF
  • Carissa Wolf
  • In Dietrich, population 330, the community’s social life revolves around the local convenience store, Eagle’s Nest restaurant and high school football.
What started with locker room taunting and racial slurs, and led to a brutal assault in the Idaho community of Dietrich that shocked the country, has ended in a settlement, the Associated Press reports.

The incident, which took place in October 2015, led to the arrest of three high school football players on charges of sexual assault after they allegedly inserted, and then kicked, a coat hanger into the rectum of a black, disabled student. One of the defendants, John R.K. Howard, was charged as an adult for forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object, and could have faced up to life in prison.

Instead, he entered an Alford plea—which allowed him to maintain his innocence despite the likelihood of prosecutors convicting him had the case gone to trial—to the lesser charge of felony injury to a child. He was sentenced to three years probation and 300 hours of community service. The other two defendants were charged as minors and their case outcomes are unavailable to the public.

The parents of the victim filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Dietrich School District in 2016, alleging the school failed to prevent harassment in spite of numerous indications to school officials and coaches that abuse was taking place. In contrast, school officials claim they were unaware of abuse or racial slurs.

The attorney for the victim, Lee Schlender, told the Associated Press a monetary settlement, now sealed by a federal court, had been reached between the family and the district. Schlender did not offer details about the size of the settlement or its terms.

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