Keller teenager pleads not guilty in locker room assault case

DIETRICH, Idaho (AP) — An 18-year-old high school student has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a black teammate in an Idaho locker room.

Prosecutors say John R.K. Howard of Keller, Texas, and two of his football teammates sexually assaulted another student with a clothes hanger at Dietrich High School in southern Idaho, reported The Times-News ( ).

Howard, who is white, is the only accused assailant being tried as an adult. Two others are facing charges in juvenile court for the Oct. 22 incident.

Howard pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony count of forcible sexual penetration by the use of a foreign object.

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If convicted, Howard faces up to life in prison, a fine of as much as $50,000 and registration as a sex offender. A trial date has not yet been set.

An adult felony charge against Howard’s 17-year-old co-defendant was dismissed, and his case was moved to juvenile court as part of a plea negotiation. Lawyers are barred from talking about the case and will not say whether there are plea negotiations going on in Howard’s case.

Howard is also charged in a civil lawsuit filed against the Dietrich School District. The lawsuit says Howard racially, physically and emotionally abused the victim of the sexual-assault case and seeks $10 million in damages from the school district.

The lawsuit describes Howard as “a large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas.”

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Howard is out of custody on a $75,000 bond. He was living in Texas in April.