Saying that he was punishing "a crime against innocence," an Anne Arundel County judge yesterday sentenced a former parochial school teacher to serve two years in prison for molesting a young female relative.
The victim "has to know that 37-year-old males just cannot do this to [young] girls," Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck told William Patrick Howerton of Odenton.
Howerton, in a long statement in court, apologized and acknowledged that his behavior traumatized the girl and her family, cost him his profession and harmed his family. He and his wife since have separated, he is living in a rented room, and he has been learning to be an electrician.
"I have just created this ever-widening circle of trauma," Howerton said.
The Sun does not publish the names of victims of sexual crimes.
Howerton taught at Charles Carroll Middle School in New Carrollton from 1998 to 2002, then taught at the Catholic School of the Incarnation in Millersville.
He was fired when he was criminally charged last year, said his lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill.
O'Neill said his client had an alcohol problem and was intoxicated on Oct. 18, when he molested the girl in his home. Howerton was on probation for driving while impaired when he was charged with child abuse in November.
The girl told school officials about the molestation after a classroom talk about sexual abuse a week later. She said Howerton begged her not to report it because he feared being jailed. But during a taped telephone call, he admitted fondling her.
Speaking at the hearing for her immediate family, the victim's mother said her daughter has suffered fears of being alone and horrible dreams since she was molested.
She said the child was afraid to attend a large family gathering because Howerton had threatened to harm her and her family. Howerton denied threatening the girl.
Manck sentenced Howerton to five years in prison and suspended three years.
He ordered Howerton to register as a child sexual offender and spend five years on supervised probation, during which he cannot drink and cannot be unsupervised around anyone younger than 18.
Given that the girl alleged two previous incidents involving Howerton, assistant state's attorney Sandra Foy Howell sought a prison term. State guidelines called for two to five years.
O'Neill had sought a sentence of house arrest or work release.