MO--Predator sought to get his conviction tossed out

For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015

For more information: David Clohessy, 314 566 9790, [email protected]

Predator sought to get his conviction tossed out

Priest pled guilty to child sex crimes in Boonville

But weeks ago, he tried to get judge to free him

He had also molested a New Jersey boy in the 1980s

Cleric had worked in three mid-Missouri counties

After leaving his Catholic post, he was a counselor

SNAP: “He's one of the most egregious child molesting clerics

Late last year, a Catholic priest who lived and worked in three mid-Missouri counties asked a judge to set aside his child sex abuse plea, claiming inadequate legal representation and obstruction of justice.   

Though he failed, his legal petition revealed some new information about the case.

In the 1980s in the Newark Archdiocese, Fr. Carmine Sita was convicted of molesting a boy in the Jersey City area.

Then, his Catholic supervisors let him legally change his name to Jerry Howard and sent him to the Jefferson City diocese, without warning parishioners or the public, where he sexually assaulted at least four boys – three in Cooper County and one in Boone County.

In June 2014, he pled guilty to one count of forcible sodomy and two counts of attempted forcible sodomy.

But in December 2014, Howard filed a mostly handwritten 22 page motion urging Cooper County Judge Robert L. Koffman to reconsider the plea deal. The ex-priest argues that he allegedly had poor legal representation and the statute of limitations had expired.

In that motion, Howard also claimed

--one of his victims “consented” with the abuse,

--some of his victims “colluded” with one another,

--he dismissed his attorney in November 2014 after the lawyer allegedly missed a hearing, and

--his attorney spent $25,000 on an expert, Ms. Kim Hart, who encouraged him to accept a plea deal.

“In his desperation, Howard is trying to blame everyone else for heinous crimes he pled guilty to committing,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “We expect that he’ll find other ways to try to get free. And the best way to stop this is for others hurt by Howard to come forward to police now."


“If you have any knowledge of or suspicions about Howard – or other child molesting clerics –  we urge you call law enforcement immediately,” she added.

Howard worked first at St. Peter & Paul Catholic church in Boonville. Later, he lived and worked in Boone County (7401 Coventry Hill Road in Midway) and Callaway County too. For a while, he was a counselor at Charter Hospital in Columbia.

In 1992, he moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey.

The prosecutor was Doug Abele of Cooper County ([email protected], 660-882-7577). Howard is represented by attorney Jim Rutter of Columbia (573 303 3909, [email protected]). In civil suits, Howard's victims have been represented by attorney Bryan Bacon of Columbia (573 874 7777), Ken Chackes of St. Louis (314 369 3902) and Greg Gianforcaro of New Jersey.

A photo of Fr. Howard, and other information, is available at


At least one civil lawsuit against Howard and his Catholic supervisors has been settled.

More information on the case is available at CaseNet.  

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