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Former Episcopal priest indicted on child sex abuse

Former Episcopal priest indicted on child sex abuse

Howard “Howdy” Willard White, Jr., 76, has been indicted by a Haywood County North Carolina Grand jury. White left a trail of abuse and alleged abuse with children across several dioceses spanning many decades during his ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The Waynesville Mountaineer reports:

The charges, which pertain to two alleged victims — one male and one female — are first-degree forcible sex offense, two counts of indecent liberties with a child, first-degree forcible rape, four counts second-degree forcible sex offense, and second-degree forcible rape. In addition, the indictments note that the female victim’s father allegedly aided and abetted White’s sexual abuse of his daughter.

Although White hasn’t been charged with anything else in North Carolina, he is currently 11 months into an 18-month sentence in Massachusetts, where he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault and battery relating to the sexual abuse of a boy dating back to 1973. Because White is in custody out of state, a court date has not yet been set. However, District Attorney Ashely Welch did note that the state is planning to get a governor’s warrant to bring White back to North Carolina to face his charges.

White served as rector for Waynesville’s Grace Church in the Mountains from  1984 to 2006, when he left the state. He was removed from the priesthood on Oct. 11, 2016. Bishop Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania made the decision following an investigation of Rhode Island’s St. George’s School, where allegations of systemic sexual misconduct, three of which involved White, were brought to the surface. He wasn’t accused of sexual misconduct from his time in Waynesville until February 2016, at which time members of Grace Church in the Mountains were informed that a woman, who was a minor at the time, came forward with information that she had been sexually abused while he was the rector at the church.

The Mountaineer provides a timeline report starting from when White was a newly minted priest in the Diocese of West Virginia in the 1960s. The timeline in the article is stellar.

The Providence Journal has followed the Howdy White trail of trauma since details first emerged. Its report on the North Carolina indictment is here:

The charges come weeks before White is scheduled to be released from the Suffolk County House of Corrections. North Carolina law enforcement officials are working to extradite him when his sentence expires.

White was one of six named perpetrators in the sex-abuse scandal at St. George’s that has rocked the Episcopal prep school since 2015.

Last May, he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault and battery for his abuse of a student with whom he twice traveled from St. George’s School to Boston in the 1970s. He was sentenced to serve 18 months but is facing early release with good time factored in.

White was the subject of a Providence Journal investigation that showed how he had left a trail of sex-abuse allegations spanning decades.

See earlier coverage by the Episcopal Café here, especially here.

The arc of justice bends slowly.


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I wish I understood how someone could abuse a child in that way. There has to be some way of discerning the potential for that behavior.

[Nan – please sign your comments with your first and last names. Thanks. – ed.]

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