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L.A. Pride Suspect Now Charged With Child Molestation
James Wesley Howell, the Indiana man arrested Sunday morning hours ahead of the L.A. Pride parade and found with a large arsenal of guns, is now accused of child molestation.
The AP reports that prosecutors in Howell's home state of Indiana have charged him with felony child molestation of a 12-year-old girl. Howell is accused of driving the girl into Indiana's Clark State Forest on May 31 and sexually assaulting her.
The victim's mother told IndyStar that the girl considered the 20-year-old Howell as her boyfriend and did not consider herself the victim of sexual abuse. "At the park, they crawled in the back seat and did things they should not have been doing," said the girl's mother.
Howell was interviewed by a police detective in the case on June 7. Five days later, he was arrested in Santa Monica, where police found explosives and three assault rifles in his car. According to KTLA, police also found a knife, Taser, handcuffs, a black hood and a security badge. He told police he was on his way to the L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood.
That same morning, 50 people were killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Police say they are unsure of any connection between Howell and the Orlando shooting.
Authorities say it is likely that Howell was trying to flee investigators. "He understood that this child molesting investigation was ongoing and he was in imminent danger of being arrested," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told IndyStar.
In the days after the sexual assault incident, Howell threatened to kill himself, members of the victim's family and any police if they tried to arrest him, reports the IndyStar. In one message, Howell called himself a "sociopath with an automatic."
Howell's past includes several violent run-ins with the law. He had previously pointed a gun at an ex-boyfriend with a gun also threatened to shoot up his ex's workplace. The day after threatening his ex, Howell also pointed a gun at his neighbor, to which he plead guilty to a charge of intimidation in April. As part of his probation, he was supposed to give up his weapons.
Howell was arrested early Sunday morning when neighbors notified police that a man was carrying a gun and knocking on doors. TMZ reports that Howell was trying to meet up with a man he met on the internet and that police have cleared the unidentified man of any wrongdoing.
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