No charges filed against 18-year-old who racially harassed Utah women's basketball team in Idaho

No charges filed against 18-year-old who racially harassed Utah women's basketball team in Idaho

No charges will be filed after Utah’s women’s basketball team was racially harassed while in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for the NCAA tournament.

City attorneys said Monday that there was “insufficient evidence” 18-year-old Anthony Myers had a specific intent to harass the team. Though prosecutors noted that Myers said the N-word, they said that his remarks were protected by Idaho’s speech laws.

From the Spokesman Review:

“As to the first requirement of specific intent to intimidate or harass, there is insufficient evidence that Anthony Myers acted with a specific intent to intimidate or harass any specific person; on the contrary, the sum of the evidence supports that Mr. Myers’ intent was to be funny,” prosecutors wrote.

“To be clear, the statements of the other occupants of the vehicle and of Mr. Myers himself all support that he — as a white male — thought it would be funny to shout his willingness to have anal sex with a Black female despite his expressed hate for Black folks, which he made abundantly clear by deploying the N-word. Setting aside the rank absurdity of that claim and the abjectly disgusting thought process required to believe it would be humorous to say something that abhorrent, it nevertheless undermines that he had the required specific intent to intimidate and harass.”

Utah changed hotels after the incident in late March before losing to Gonzaga in the second round of the tournament.

Myers made his comments from a car on a street as the team was walking to dinner at a restaurant. After the incident occurred and was reported to police, Coeur d’Alene city officials held a news conference and Mayor Jim Hammond apologized to Utah for what Myers did while calling his actions “totally unacceptable.”

The NCAA issued a statement condemning racism after the incident became public, and Utah said it was disappointed to have to stay so far away from the site of its first- and second-round games in a different state. The school said that being forced to stay in Idaho "was unacceptable and a contributing factor to the impact of this incident."

The Utes were assigned to Spokane, Washington, for the women’s NCAA tournament and had to stay in Idaho because of hotel availability. The city was set to host first- and second-round games for the men’s NCAA tournament in 2024 for years and found out on Selection Sunday that it was also hosting first- and second-round games for the women’s tournament after Gonzaga got a top-four seed.

The combination of the two tournaments in the same city and a youth volleyball tournament made lodging hard to come by. That forced Utah to stay in nearby Coeur d’Alene and get police escorts back and forth to Spokane to ensure that the drive didn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Hammond said Monday that he didn’t want to second-guess the decision not to prosecute and called on Myers’ parents to send him a message.

“The concern that I have is, I don’t want the message to be that it’s OK to behave like that, that it’s OK to treat people like that,” he told the Spokesman Review. “Because it’s not.”