DIETRICH, Idaho – An Idaho school uncovered bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault among students during its investigation into the rape of a black football player last year, according to recently released documents filed as part of a lawsuit.
Officials with Dietrich School District said they conducted 30 interviews with football players, coaches and parents, finding evidence of misconduct after the victim’s mother reported the attack on her son, the heavily redacted records said.
The boy’s family sued the school for $10 million in damages, claiming the sexual assault was the culmination of months of racist taunts and physical abuse in a tiny rural town that is predominantly white.
Prosecutors say three football teammates sexually assaulted the student with a clothes hanger at Dietrich High School while pretending to give the victim a hug on Oct. 22, 2015.
The documents say one of the players told others who asked him to stop “something to the effect, ‘Shut up or I’ll do the same thing to you,’ ” the Times-News of Twin Falls reported Tuesday.
A second player probably simulated having sex with younger players before the day of the attack, the documents said. The third player accused in the incident was “possibly hugging” the victim when another player grabbed his underwear and pulled it.
One player who witnessed the attack said, “I felt like saying something to stop it but I’m one of those people that I get too nervous or shy to say something about it,” the records said.
District Superintendent Ben Hardcastle wrote in a Nov. 6, 2015, report that he and Principal Stephanie Shaw “used disciplinary action to address misconduct.” Details of who was disciplined and how were not disclosed.
“As a school, we want to help identify what we can do to help (the victim) and to help see to the needs of all of our students in the wake of this,” Hardcastle wrote.
John R.K. Howard of Keller, Texas, is the only defendant in the case being tried as an adult. The 18-year-old, who is white, has pleaded not guilty. The others were charged in juvenile court.
The documents detailing the school’s investigation were released by Lee Schlender, a lawyer representing the victim, and would not typically be made public.
However, Schlender told the newspaper that attorneys filed the documents last Thursday in federal court as part of a request that a judge force the school to hand over the nonredacted reports.
“We’re entitled to get that material because it’s evidence,” Schlender said. “The school district’s attorneys have the entire file in its pure form.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.