Witness in Boonville priest sex abuse case recalls years of abuse

BOONVILLE — Mark McAllister hasn’t seen Gerald Howard in nearly 25 years. On Wednesday, McAllister hopes to see him again, this time from the witness stand. McAllister is expected to testify against Howard, a former priest at the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville, who is accused of using his position of authority to systematically abuse and sexually molest McAllister and other boys.

Howard is charged with three counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of attempted forcible sodomy, and two counts of kidnapping and terrorizing for incidents that were alleged to have occurred between September 1983 and June 1988. Howard is being held on $1.5 million bond.

According to previous Missourian reporting, Howard, formerly known by the name Carmen Sita, was a priest in New Jersey where he was charged with sexual contact with a minor in September 1982 and pleaded guilty in 1983.    

Barbara Dorris, outreach director at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said church leaders briefly placed Howard in a treatment facility, before his name was changed and he returned to the priesthood in Boonville in the fall of 1983.

According to a motion filed in June 2010, Howard was arrested in New Jersey and arraigned on all eight counts on May 17, 2010.

He was brought to Cooper County, where he now awaits trial.

On Wednesday morning, Howard will have a motion hearing in the Cooper County Courthouse to determine if the eight coun...


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