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      Accused priest wants bench trial

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

      A former Boonville priest charged with 8 felony counts, including sodomy and kidnapping, wants a bench trial.

      An attorney representing Gerry Howard made that request before a Cooper County judge today.

      The case will be set for trial sometime after the first of the year.

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

      His victims said the sexual abuse happened between 1984 and 1987.

      Before coming to Missouri, Howard 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 the priest was in Boonville received a $600,000 settlement in 2009 from church officials in Jefferson City and Newark, New Jersey.

      Howard remains in the Cooper County Jail.