Former Boonville Priest Wants to Dismiss Sexual Abuse Charges
By Mark Slavit
October 31, 2012
A four-and-a-half hour hearing to determine whether child sex charges against a former priest should be dismissed was held at the Cooper County Courthouse.
Prosecutors charged Gerald Howard with eight felony counts, including sodomy and kidnapping.
The victims said the sexual abuse happened between 1984 and 1987.
The hearing was on a motion to dismiss filed by Howard’s attorney in July.
The dismissal revolves around legal issues involving statutes of limitations.
Howard worked as a priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville.
If the defense motion is upheld by a judge, Howard will go free on the pending charges.
If the defense motion is overruled, the case will be set for trial sometime after the first of the year.
Before coming to Missouri, Howard changed his name from Carmine Sita after a 1982 conviction for sexually abusing a minor in Jersey City.
A Virginia man who accused Howard of abuse while the priest was in Boonville received a $600,000 settlement in 2009 from church officials in Jefferson City and Newark, New Jersey.
Cooper County Prosecutor Doug Abele said he doesn’t expect a ruling on the motion to dismiss the charges against Howard before the end of the year.
Howard remains in the Cooper County Jail.