Howard "Howdy" White, a former associate chaplain at St. George’s School in Middletown, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Boston to charges of assault and battery. He's accused of assaulting a then 16-year-old St. George’s student during two trips to Boston more than 40 years ago.
A former Episcopal priest, White, now 75, was arraigned in Suffolk County Superior Court. Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, said the alleged offenses involve sexual assault, but that charge was not an available option for prosecutors to use against White.
"Were the case to be charged today," said Wark, "he would likely have been indicted for indecent assault and battery, but as of 1973, when these crimes occurred, that statute did not yet exist in Massachusetts.”
A grand jury indicted White last month. Wark said the case was developed from information provided by Rhode Island state police.
“Some of the information that Rhode Island state police developed in the course of their investigation was useful to us in charging cases here in Massachusetts” said Wark.
Rhode Island police investigated widespread allegations of sexual abuse at St. George’s School by White and others, but concluded their probe in June unable to bring a criminal case in Rhode Island, primarily because the statute of limitations had run out on potential charges.
The assault charges in Massachusetts also carry statutes of limitations, but they apply to only Massachusetts residents. Because White never lived in Massachusetts, he could be charged under the law, Wark said.
White, who now lives in Bedford, Pennsylvania, has been accused of sexual abuse going back years, relating to his clerical positions in New Hampshire and North Carolina, as well as Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Earlier this year, White was removed from the priesthood by the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania because of the abuse allegations. He had not been charged with any crimes, until now. His trial in Massachusetts is scheduled to begin in June.