Former CR teacher, wrestling coach to plead guilty in child sex abuse case

Howell, Dickie by .

Richard Howell II

DOVER — A former high school teacher and wrestling coach who is facing child sex abuse charges has agreed to enter a guilty plea.

A Kent County judge scheduled a plea hearing Friday for Richard “Dickie” Howell II.

Howell was arrested in January 2015 after a female student at Caesar Rodney High School reported that he had sex with her over several months in 2014 that included encounters at school and his home.

Howell was later indicted on 50 felony counts of sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust and sexual solicitation of a child. He had initially been charged with fourth-degree rape and continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Howell’s trial, which had been repeatedly postponed, was scheduled to begin March 8.

Previous trial dates scheduled for Sept. 9, 2015, Nov. 2, 2015, and Tuesday were postponed. Last week at a scheduled Final Case Review, the case was placed on a control status and the trial date was postponed pending Tuesday’s appearance.

Deputy Attorney General Kathy Dickerson was prosecuting for the state, with lawyer Alex Funk representing Mr. Howell .

According to the Delaware State Police at the time of his arrest, preliminary investigation found that Howell, 51, of Wyoming, allegedly was involved sexually with a 17-year-old female Caesar Rodney High student from as early as March 2014 until late December 2014.

After indictment on April 6, 2015, the Caesar Rodney School Board accepted Howell ’s resignation.

At the time, Howell ’s arrest on Jan. 14, 2015, was the third of a Kent County public school teacher regarding sexual misconduct allegations involving students in 10 months.

Former Smyrna High teacher and coach Jennifer J. Suarez turned herself in to the Smyrna Police Department on April 25, 2014, and was sentenced 10 years in prison, suspended after six months on Feb. 25, 2015, after pleading guilty to a fourth-degree rape charge involving a male student.

In December 2014, former Caesar Rodney School District teacher Stephanie L. Seabury was sentenced to 18 months probation after pleading to a fourth-degree rape charge regarding a male student at Fred Fifer III Middle School.

Ms. Seabury turned herself in to the Dover Police Department on April 28, 2014.

Both Ms. Suarez and Ms. Seabury were required to register as Tier 2 sex offenders.

Last spring, Howell pleaded not guilty to 50 felony counts in an indictment alleging the sexual relationship with a female student in 2014.

Exiting the courthouse on that day last year, Howell responded with a polite “no thanks” when asked for comment from newspaper and television media. His lawyer Mr. Funk also declined comment earlier.

Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Dickerson said in court the state would not prosecute two unindicted fourth-degree rape charges initially brought by the Delaware State Police upon Howell ’s arrest in mid-January.

Howell submitted a letter of resignation to the Caesar Rodney School District on April 9, according to a spokesman earlier. His resignation was approved by board members April 21 at the district’s monthly meeting, officials said.

On April 6, Howell was indicted by a Kent County grand jury on 43 counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, authority or supervision, and seven counts of sexual solicitation of a child.

Howell taught physical education and health at CR, and also served as wrestling coach. He was suspended without pay Jan. 15, a day after police announced the arrest and initial charges against him.

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