Ex-parochial school teacher pleads guilty in molestation

February 08, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A former parochial school teacher pleaded guilty Friday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to child abuse in connection with the molestation of a female relative in October.

Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell said she would seek a jail sentence for William Patrick Howerton, 37, of Odenton when he is sentenced April 2 by Judge Joseph P. Manck.

Howell said the child became upset during a classroom discussion of sexual abuse and then privately told officials that she had been molested a week earlier by Howerton at his home. She said Howerton begged her not to report it because he feared being jailed, apologized and said he was drunk at the time. Howell said there was no indication that there were other victims.

Howerton taught at School of the Incarnation in Millersville but was fired after he was charged in the case, said his defense attorney, Peter S. O'Neill. Howerton is working as an electrician's apprentice, O'Neill said.

O'Neill said Howerton was "highly intoxicated" when the girl was molested. Computerized Maryland court records indicate that Howerton pleaded guilty to trespassing and related charges and was ordered to attend an alcohol clinic in 1986, and that he is on probation after pleading guilty last year to driving while impaired.

The maximum prison term for child abuse is 15 years.

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