Repeat sex offender headed to prison for 45 years
A Fort Bend County man convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child has been sentenced to 45 year in prison.
Dwayne Bernard Howard, 52, of Houston was found guilty by a jury on Jan. 24 for aggravated sexual assault of a child before being sentenced by the Honorable Maggie Jaramillo to 45 years in prison in accordance with a plea agreement.
Jenna Rudoff was the lead prosecutor on the case.
“It is very difficult for any child to speak out about sexual abuse and face their abuser in a courtroom full of strangers,” Rudoff said. “When children speak up, we must listen and make sure their voices are heard. In this case, the voices of these incredibly brave young children ensured the defendant will never be able to harm another child again. They are our heroes.”
Prosecutor Claire Andresen praised the young child who is the survivor of the sexual assault in this case.
“This child courageously stood up to their abuser and saw to it that the defendant was held accountable for his heinous actions,” Andresen said. The verdict and punishment in this case sends a strong message to the community that sexual abuse of children in Fort Bend County will not be tolerated, and individuals who commit such offenses will suffer the severe consequences that justice requires.”
According to the Fort Bend County County District Attorney’s Office, Howard originally entered a plea of not guilty to begin his trial in the 400th District Court on Jan. 22.
After the jury was seated, Assistant District Attorneys Jenna Rudoff and Claire Andresen presented evidence in a hearing outside the presence of the jury “regarding the sexual abuse committed by the defendant against the 7-year-old child in this case.”
Also presented was evidence that Howard sexually abused four other children when they were between the ages of 6 and 15 years old. After this evidence was heard, Howard changed his plea to guilty before the jury and have the court assess his punishment.
On Jan. 24, the state presented evidence that Howawrd had three prior felony convictions, including an indecency with a child by sexual contact conviction in 1999 that resulted in six years in prison. The court then sentenced Howard to 45 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division. Under Texas law, Howard is not eligible for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence. Howard will be 74 years old before he is eligible for parole.
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Detective Dawn Welch led the investigation in Fort Bend County.
Welch discovered that “there were four additional children who had been sexually assaulted by Howard over the last two decades” in Harris County. She joined Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tyrone Tribbett in “completing a full and thorough investigation related to all of the children abused by the defendant.”
Howard had three pending charges in Harris County which have been dismissed. He has a criminal record dating back to 1987 in Harris County.
The investigation and prosecution was made possible by work including the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office. Child Advocates of Fort Bend and the Harris County Children’s Assessment Center “played a vital role in providing access to resources and services for all of the children, during and following the investigation.”
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony in this case, punishable by 5-99 years, or life, in prison and a fine up to $10,000.