***UPDATE 4:30 P.M.***A former Mid-Missouri priest charged with sex crimes believe he should not face trial.Prosecutors charge Gerald Howard, also known as Carmine Sita, with multiple counts of forcible sodomy and rape. Under his former name, Sita was convicted of sex crimes against another child in 1982.Prosecutors say while he was a priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville, he allegedly raped three young boys between 1984 and 1987.Defense attorney Mike Holder is denying all allegations against Howard, but he says more importantly, the time for the state to charge Howard ran out before the charges were filed and therefore he should go free.The three abuse victims took the stand Wednesday and detailed the abuse they suffered. The testimony was all to help the prosecution overcome the legal hurdles of statute of limitations.The alleged abuse happened between 1984 and 1987. At the time, prosecutors would have had until 1990 to charge Howard. However, the law changed in the late 1980s to give seven more years until 1997 to file charges. Still, the charges were not filed until 2010, which poses a problem for prosecutors.Although laws changed again in 2004, allotting even more time to file, it is the gap between 1997 and 2004 that could void the charges.To get around that issue, prosecutors have to show Howard tried to hide his crimes, which is why they used victim testimony in court Wednesday. The three victims each said Howard threatened them, even with violence and blackmail, in order to keep the abuse a secret and prevent them from coming forward until late 2008.The judge did not make a ruling, so Howard is still in custody. Howard’s defense has 30 days to support their request for dismissal. From there, the state will have ten days to respond.***ORIGINAL STORY***A former Boonville priest accused of sex crime will be in court Wednesday.Gerald Howard is facing charges of forcible sodomy and kidnapping in Cooper County.A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday. New details about the case are expected to be released during the hearing. The alleged incidents happened in and near Boonville back in the 1980’s.Howard remains in jail.
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