Former priest pleads guilty to child sex crimes

Gerald Howard pleaded guilty to three charges Tuesday afternoon.

A former Boonville priest has pleaded guilty to three child sex crimes and was sentenced to a total of 12 years behind bars.

Gerald Howard pleaded guilty Tuesday in Cooper County Court to two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of attempted forcible sodomy. He was sentenced to 12 years for each charge, with sentences running concurrently.

The victims in the case said the abuse happened between 1984 and 1987.

Howard worked as a priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville.

Before coming to Missouri, Howard had changed his name from Carmine Sita after a 1982 conviction for sexually abusing a minor in Jersey City.

A Virginia man who accused Howard of abuse while Howard was in Boonville received a $600,000 dollar settlement in 2009 for church officials in Jefferson City and Newark, New Jersey.