Friday, December 14, 2001

Food aid used to lure boys

Mom says needy kids targeted

By Jim Hannah and Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A woman who shot and wounded a suspected pedophile said Thursday that he had coerced underprivileged boys, including her son, into having sex by promising food for their families.

        In her son's case, she said, he delivered.

        “He would take food by the truckloads to our house and others,” said the 40-year-old Covington woman during a phone interview with The Enquirer. “There was enough food to fill up the refrigerator, deep freezer and closets.”

        The woman — whom The Enquirer is not identifying to protect her child's identity — is free on bond, awaiting a grand jury decision on whether to indict her on a first-degree assault charge.

        She has said she shot Larry Eugene Howell in the abdomen and groin because her son told her that Mr. Howell had molested him repeatedly during an 18-month period.

        Mr. Howell, 40, was later charged with nine counts of sodomy with juveniles after about 30 boys came forward to say they had sexual contact with him. Also, Cincinnati police are investigating an incident allegedly involving Mr. Howell in the city.

        The woman said that her family knew nothing of any deal of food for sex. They accepted Mr. Howell's gifts, including the food, she said, because they “had fallen on hard times” last winter. Her husband had suffered a heart attack and was unable to work, and she was recovering at home from a car wreck, she said.

        The woman said Mr. Howell never told her where he got the food, but she assumed it came from his employer, a non-profit called Be Concerned, which helps families at risk of hunger or homelessness. Mr. Howell was fired from the agency last summer, about the same time the woman says Mr. Howell quit giving her family food.

        The director of Be Concerned, which provides food to 1200 families, denied the woman's claims.

        “I don't know where this woman got her information,” said Mary Jennings. “He delivered food to agencies, not to families.”

        Ms. Jennings said the only exception was when a Piner boy was killed while riding his bike, and Mr. Howell took food to the family because his sister knew them.

        Mr. Howell had volunteered at Be Concerned for two years before being employed a year as a warehouse worker and driver, Ms. Jennings said. He was fired in August, Ms. Jennings said, “for reasons unrelated to what's going on now.” She declined to elaborate.

        “I just wish people would stop using our name,” she said. “Larry hasn't been here for almost five months.”

        The woman who shot him, a mother of five, has been suspended from her job as a secretary at the IRS processing center in Covington, she said. An IRS spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

        Mr. Howell remained at the Kenton County Detention Center Thursday on $250,000 cash bond. His preliminary hearing on the charges is Jan. 16. His attorney, David Bender, did not return calls requesting comment.

        Before these cases, Mr. Howell had been convicted on numerous burglary charges.

        His only sex-related conviction came in August 2000, when a Kenton County jury found him guilty of distributing obscene material to a minor in an incident in which prosecutors said he had tried to perform oral sex on a boy.

        Mr. Howell was picked up Nov. 27 on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of child pornography.

        He was released a day later after posting a $1,000 cash bond.

        The next evening he was shot.


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