Richard L. "Dickie" Howell II, an accomplished Delaware wrestler who went on to become one of the state's best high school wrestling coaches, was charged Wednesday with child sex abuse and rape in what state police say was a 10-month sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
Howell, 50, of Wyoming – a longtime physical education/health teacher and coach at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden – surrendered to police Wednesday afternoon, Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier said.
He repeatedly had intercourse with the girl at the high school and his home, repeatedly had her perform oral sex on him and sent nude photos of himself to her by phone, along with a video of himself masturbating, according to court documents.
Howell was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, 15 counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust and two counts of fourth-degree rape, Fournier said.
He was committed to Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after failing to post $550,000 secured bail.
Howell also was ordered to have no contact with the victim or anyone under age 18, Fournier said.
Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald issued a statement about a half hour after Howell's arrest was announced, saying Howell has been suspended with pay, in accordance with teachers' negotiated agreement.
The district was informed of Howell's conduct Monday morning, he said. Police were contacted immediately, Fitzgerald said, and Howell was suspended.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the girl – now a senior – told investigators she was a junior when she and Howell began having sexual intercourse and he began having her perform oral sex on him.
They had sexual contact numerous times at the school before the academic year ended, then in June and July, she went to his house, where they had intercourse at least twice, the court document said. After the next school year began, she told police, they had intercourse at least seven times at his home, the document said.
The girl also told police she and Howell communicated by phone, through voice and text messages, the affidavit said, noting that a forensic search of her cellphone revealed various text exchanges between her and Howell referencing meeting one another to engage in sexual intercourse.
|Caesar Rodney head wrestling coach Dickie Howell reaches to shake hands |
with Smyrna’s team captains before a 2013 match
The sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl began as early as March 2014, Fournier said, and lasted until late December.
Howell and the student "engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior at least nine times on school grounds, as well as a number of times at his Wyoming residence," Fournier said.
Howell is the second Caesar Rodney High teacher to be charged similarly since 2012. That June, teacher Andrew Chrzanowski was charged with having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student.
Police declined to release more details about Howell investigation. "Because of the sensitivity of this case, and in consideration of the victim, only limited information will be released," Fournier said.
He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 23, according to court records.
Also in Delaware:
Delaware teacher sentenced for sex with student
A former Caesar Rodney middle school teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old student has been sentenced to probation. What is going on at that school?
Seabury could not be reached for comment Friday. But a man who answered at her family’s home in Hauppauge, N.Y., said to call her lawyer. When asked who the lawyer was he said, “You should be able to find out at the courthouse,” and added, “She’s innocent.”
Seabury, of the Woodmill Apartments, in the 1300 block of S. Farmview Drive in Dover, was an English teacher at Fifer Middle School in Camden.
According to court records, the boy told authorities on March 12 that he had had a sexual relationship with the teacher at her home. During one such encounter on Feb. 26, the boy said he engaged in intercourse with the teacher, according to the court records.
Investigators contacted officials at the school on March 13, who confirmed the victim was one of her students, Dover police said.
Staff also found surveillance footage showing the two leaving the school together Feb. 26 and walking toward Seabury’s car, police said.
Seabury was charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust or authority. On Wednesday, she pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree rape, according to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.
Smyrna teacher charged with sexual abuse of Student
Jennifer J. Suarez, 37, of the 100 block of Huntfield Drive in Smyrna, was arrested about 1 p.m. Friday, Smyrna police said. She was charged with first-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust and released after posting $20,000 secured bail.
The investigation of Suarez, a math teacher who became coach of the school's cross-country team in 2012, began in February, after an allegation of misconduct reached police.
Smyrna student files sex lawsuit against teacher
A 16-year-old Smyrna High School student, who had an ongoing sexual relationship with a teacher, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the now-imprisoned math instructor and the school district, her lawyers said.
The Kent County Superior Court suit blames 38-year-old Donovan J. Garvin and the Smyrna district for acts of sexual assault and battery that were committed against the student, identified by the pseudonym "Jane Doe." The suit alleges the district had "actual or constructive notice of prior misconduct by Garvin, which endangered students and subjected them to sexual abuse."
Attorney Raeann Warner, who represents the girl, said it was unfortunate Garvin used his position to prey on a vulnerable student.
"What is more troubling is that the suit alleges that other teachers warned Garvin to stay away from plaintiff, apparently recognizing the inappropriateness of their relationship," Warner said. Despite knowing this, the suit said no district employee took action to prevent Garvin from continuing his behavior.
"Still more troubling is that recently, between April 26, 2014, and May 5, 2014, there were reports of the arrests of three other teachers in Delaware public schools for sexually abusing students, including a teacher employed by Smyrna High School," Warner said.
Garvin, of the 600 block of Widener Lane, was arrested last year following an investigation that started after the discovery of a cellphone containing communication between him and the girl. The relationship apparently began in 2012 when the girl, then 15, was a sophomore. She was a student of Garvin's the previous school year.
According to the 13-page lawsuit, the two had sex on at least 10 occasions. Some of the assaults occurred in Garvin's classroom, according to the victim's attorney.
The abuse came to an end when the girl contacted Garvin via a classmate's cellphone and Garvin responded with sexually explicit messages, according to the lawsuit. The classmate contacted Smyrna High administrators, who contacted police.
Garvin was charged with 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust and one count of sexual solicitation of a child to engage in prohibited acts. He pleaded guilty Aug. 28 to a single count of child abuse and was sentenced to 13 years in prison and 2½ years of probation. He also must register as a sex offender and is prohibited from having contact with minors, except for his own children.
During Garvin's sentencing, Warner said a deputy attorney general informed the court that Garvin was let go by other school districts for allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with students.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.