Former teacher Howell sentenced to minimum six years

DOVER — A former Caesar Rodney High teacher and wrestling coach will serve at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to six felony charges resulting from a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student in 2014.

Richard L. “Dickie” Howell II, 52, of Wyoming, pleaded to three counts each of first-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust and fourth-degree rape on Friday morning in Kent County Superior Court.

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Richard Howell II

Howell answered “Yes” several times when asked by Judge Jeffrey Clark if he understood the ramifications of his plea and how it was reached. The six charges carry a maximum of 120 years of prison time.

Judge Clark immediately revoked bond, and Howell was placed in custody of the Delaware Department of Correction.

The court ordered a pre-sentence investigation, and a sentencing date is scheduled for April 26.

Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Dickerson, who declined comment afterward, indicated in court the state will not prosecute 44 other charges in the case.

Attorney Alex Funk, who represented Howell, also declined comment.

During the proceeding, Howell withdrew an earlier not guilty plea.

The plea session lasted less than 10 minutes. Howell was joined by four people, including family members and a friend, at the appearance.

Court papers listed the date of offense at March 1, 2014, and investigating Delaware State Police believed the relationship continued into late December of that year. Howell was arrested on Jan. 14. 2015, and indicted on April 6, 2015.

The Caesar Rodney School Board accepted Howell’s resignation after he was indicted.

Howell, who is divorced, will receive credit for any time already served at the DOC.

The minimum mandatory sentence was two years for each of the Class B felony sexual abuse counts to be served consecutively. The rape charges are Class C felonies and lesser included counts from original charges.

The court said Howell will be registered as a Tier III sex offender banned from contact with children younger than 18 years old. He also was ordered to pay costs associated with the case.

The matter was scheduled for a jury trial on March 8, which followed three postponements beginning on Sept. 9, 2015.

When announcing the arrest in 2015, the Delaware State Police said preliminary investigation found that inappropriate sexual behavior was conducted on school grounds and in Howell’s residence.

He initially was held at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in lieu of $550,000 secured bond, which was then posted.

Howell’s arrest was the third in a 10-month string of Kent County teacher-student sexual misconduct allegations.

In December 2014, former Caesar Rodney School District teacher Stephanie L. Seabury received 18 months’ probation after pleading guilty to a fourth-degree rape charge involving a male student.

On Feb. 25, 2015, ex-Smyrna High teacher Jennifer J. Suarez was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after six months, for a fourth-degree rape charge regarding a male student.

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