Priest Accused of More Crimes
November 15, 2012
A priest already convicted of sex crimes and accused of molesting Mid-Missouri children is at the center of another investigation.
Boone County prosecutors confirmed today there is an ongoing investigation into allegations Fr. Gerald Howard sexually abused a boy in Columbia in the 1980s. Howard is currently in jail in Cooper County on similar charges.
Authorities say the abuse happened while Howard was serving as a priest in Boonville in the 1980s, after a conviction on sex crimes against a child.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP, says after leaving Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville, Howard worked as a counselor in Columbia and then Fulton. The Callaway County Prosecutor says he has been made aware of the potential for victims there.
Howard's lawyers are working to have his current charges against him dropped and to get him out of jail. However, SNAP officials believe he needs to stay there and they are urging other potential victims to come forward.
"With our experience, child predators don't sit down one day and decide they're going to stop abusing kids," said Judy Jones of SNAP.
Judy Jones says she does not believe Gerald Howard, previously known as Carmine Sita, was done molesting kids after being convicted in New Jersey in the early 1980s. She says within a year, church officials allowed him to change his name, remain a priest, and serve in Boonville.
"And that's where he abused again," said Jones. "Since then we have learned that he also abused at Charter Hospital in Columbia."
Boone County prosecutors confirm there is an ongoing investigation into claims that Howard sexually abused children at the old Charter Hospital. Jones insists that those will not be the last. She presented a letter written by the mother of an alleged victim that claims Howard took a counseling job in Fulton after leaving Columbia.
"We have no clue how long he was here or where he worked here," said Jones. "So we're worried that there are victims here."
The Callaway County Sheriff and the Prosecutor tell ABC 17 News they have not been made aware of any allegations of abuse yet. Prosecutor Chris Wilson says if any do arise, an investigation would then follow.
Jone says she is urging anyone who knows anything to come forward.
"Even the tiniest little tidbit of information could help the police because this guy is very, very dangerous and he needs to be kept away from kids forever," Jones said.
Howard's lawyers claim current charges against him should be thrown out because the statute of limitations have run out. In a few weeks, a Cooper County judge will hear from Howard's attorneys about the charges. The judge will then decide whether those charges should be dropped or if Howard will stand trial.