CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man accused of abusing an 8-year-old girl was sentenced to state prison Tuesday.
Richard Lee Howell, 31, pleaded guilty to felony counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors before Judge Paul E. Cherry, who sentenced him to a total of three to 10 years in state prison with an additional five years probation.
Initially Cherry questioned Howell’s plea agreement because the most serious charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse had not been included, and he stated he was going to reject it because of the victim impact statement. The statement said that they did “not believe justice was being served.”
Howell’s attorney, Ryan Sayers, defended the plea agreement saying that the district attorney did not want to follow through with the serious charge.
When the victim’s mother addressed the court, she said that no amount of jail time would ever “make this OK.”
“She will have nightmares the rest of her life,” she said of the victim. She then asked Cherry to give him the maximum sentence.
She mentioned that when she spoke with District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., he said the charges were correct.
Assistant District Attorney Jendi Schwab argued for a sentence in the aggregated range because the standard range for the charges he was pleading to, only require a one-year minimum sentence.
She stated that Howell had betrayed the trust the victim had in him and did it more than once.
Before announcing the sentence, Cherry asked Howell if he had anything to say and he said no.
Cherry responded asking if Howell didn’t feel like he needed to say he was sorry. Cherry said this was a “sick act” and commented that Howell needed “extensive help.”
Cherry noted he chose to sentence Howell in the aggregated range due to the age of the victim, the level of the violation of trust and that the incident was a course of conduct.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the victim said Howell took her for a ride in his truck and pulled off a dirt road. There he pulled his pants down and forced her to perform a sex act on him.
Afterwards, he took her to McDonald’s where he bought her ice cream. He explained that the ice cream was a reward for what she did to him. He then took her to a store where he bought her a toy.
During her interview with Mary Tatum of the Clearfield County Child Advocacy Center, the victim related she was sexually abused on two other occasions when Howell made her touch his private area.
Due to the charges, Howell was evaluated, but was found not to be a sexually violent predator. However, he will still have to register his address with law enforcement under Megan’s Law.