MO - SNAP urges victims in Callaway Co. to come forward
We're with SNAP., the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We're here outside the Callaway Co sheriff's office for two reasons:
First, to urge Callaway County law enforcement officials - police, prosecutors and others - to do all they can, including using their bully pulpits and investigative powers, to try and find anyone who may have been sexually assaulted by Fr. Jerry Howard.
Second, to urge every single current and former Callaway County resident who may have seen, suspected or suffered Fr. Howard's crimes to come forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
It's been known and publicly reported before that Fr. Jerry Howard lived, worked and allegedly molested in both Cooper and Boone counties, in Boonville and Columbia respectively, first as a priest and later as a counselor.
It's never been publicly reported, however, that Howard also spent time in Callaway County. We just learned that recently from the mother of one of his Columbia are victims. We don't know exactly where. But frankly, that doesn't really matter.
What matters is that he's credibly accused of sexually assaulting kids in two other counties, so no matter when, where or for how long he was in Callaway County, we believe it's likely that he hurt kids here too. And given the fact that he was convicted of molesting once, yet may soon walk free, we believe that it's crucial that law enforcement officials here do everything they can to pursue him here.
It's true that Howard's crimes 0- the ones publicly alleged - happened years ago. And it's true that we are not away of any of Howard's victims who were molested in Callaway County.
But that doesn't mean he hurt no one here. And it doesn't mean that anyone in Callaway County should be complacent or pessimistic. Increasingly, we see police, prosecutors and judges being more assertive, creative and determined in their efforts to stop child molesters. So every tidbit of information about a suspected child predator - no matter how small, old or seemingly insignificant - might be helpful to a police officer somewhere.
So again, if you saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Jerry Howard, please, please find the courage and strength to speak up now.
Don't assume it's too late.
Don't assume what you know isn't important.
Don't assume that he'll stay behind bars, away from kids.
By the way, when Howard told this victim's mom that he was working and living in Callaway County, none of his crimes had surfaced. So Howard had no reason to lie to her about his whereabouts or his employment. And the victim's mom has no reason to lie now.