Liberty Co. councilman accused of sexual assault of child

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Local councilman accused of sexually abusing a child, Deborah Wrigley reports. (KTRK)

Dennie Thurman Howell Jr. has served as a councilman in the town of Daisetta in Liberty County for at least eight years. Now he's being held in the Liberty County jail, charged with one count of sexual assault of a child.

The constable in charge of the investigation says that may be only the start. Four more accusations have been confirmed by sex assault investigators, and two more juvenile complainants will be interviewed next week. Howell was arrested three weeks ago.

"He (Howell) asked for a lawyer as soon as we attempted to question him," Constable Leslie Hulsey said.

A judge denied bond.

Now investigators have more than a child's outcry on which to base a case. Evidence is being provided by Howell's own son.

"I knew that the man that everybody saw here was an illusion of a man, it wasn't real," Dennie Thurman Howell III said.

He had been estranged from his father for years, and recently returned to Liberty County. There he said he was troubled by frequent visits from children to his father's house. One in particular, he said viewed Howell Jr. as a stepfather and would stay at the home.

In early February, he said his father told him that an investigation was underway.

"He denied everything," his son said.

A few days later, he says Howell Jr. told him he was going to repair something and never returned. After nearly two weeks, the city councilman was arrested.

His son then looked in his father's house for answers, and what he found was very disturbing.

"I found pictures, little girls underwear, memorabilia that I got out of his room," he added.

Along with those items, he turned over papers to the Constable's office, which confirmed that Howell III "has been very helpful."

"I love my father," he said. "But I can't stand by. There are good people out there who will listen."

Constable Hulsey believes Howell Jr. was still in contact with children within a week of his arrest.

"Some people in town are still in a state of denial, but the families of the children are angry," Hulsey added.

He said teachers at the school had noticed the behavior of the children allegedly involved had changed, and were exhibiting behavioral problems.

"Now," Hulsey said. "It seems like the children are relieved they're able to talk about it."

He expects Howell Jr. to remain in jail without bond, because more charges may be filed and for the safety of the accused.
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newssexual assaultchild sex assaultDaisetta
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