Sex offender gets five years for church visit during Bible school
Rockland — A 64-year-old Washington man convicted of multiple counts of gross sexual assault against young children will spend another five years in prison for probation violations, including visiting a church while summer Bible school was in session.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said Feb. 26 Danny Howard is a threat to society and is capable of acting on his predatory inclinations, placing children at risk. Hjelm called the recommended sentence offered by the state modest.
Howard was convicted in 1991 of three counts of gross sexual assault and served 15 years in prison. He was sentenced to an additional year and then 90 days for two violations in 2006, the year he was released from custody. Those infractions included separate incidents of contact with a child in waiting room at a probation office, and indecent conduct.
His probation period was set to end this week.
Last year, Howard was suspended from a therapy program he was enrolled in because he was not following protocol. His discontinuance of therapy was a violation of probation. He was also caught in June at the parking lot of a South Liberty church during vacation Bible school. He was formally a deacon at the church, and the state contends he knew children were present at the time. Howard told police he wanted to visit the church for old times sake, according to court reports.
Howard admitted to the violations in November.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said the church was a place Howard met and assaulted victims. Howard was seen at the church by a parent of a victim he assaulted in 1990. Hjelm said the defendant visiting the church was emotionally charging for victims and their families.
An evaluation of Howard showed signs of improvement and an understanding his inclinations are not socially acceptable, said the defense counsel. He said rehabilitation has helped his client, and a prison sentence would be counterproductive.
The evaluation, although showing some improvement, also found Howard is still a risk to children.
Howard did not address the court.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.