Local News

Wake Tech's ex-president enters plea on child abuse charges

Posted August 22, 2012

— The former president of Wake Technical Community College entered a special guilty plea to a number of charges Wednesday in connection with allegations that he endangered the lives of his three grandchildren.

Bruce Howell, who was Wake Tech's president for 23 years until 2003, entered an Alford plea to three counts of misdemeanor child abuse and one count of injury to property.

In an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty, while maintaining his or her innocence, and admits it is in his or her best interest to plea because there is sufficient evidence of guilt.

Kristin Howell, Howell's former daughter-in-law, accused him of putting nails six times in the tires of a car in which his three granddaughters – ages 4, 7 and 9 – rode in fall 2010 as she was going through a custody battle with her ex-husband, Bruce Howell's son.

She had a tire blow out each time she picked the children up following visits at their grandfather's home, she said.

Eventually, she had a private investigator capture the crime on tape.

"I didn't understand how he could do that to his grandchildren – knowingly putting them in the car, knowing I'm driving 15 minutes to school, 65 mph, putting their lives in danger," Kristen Howell said after her former father-in-law's plea Wednesday. "It's just sick to me."

Nov. 16, 2010, video image of Bruce Howell Nov. 16, 2010, video of Bruce Howell

The 70-year-old, who still sees his granddaughters on supervised visits, was given a 60-day suspended sentence and was ordered to 24 months of unsupervised probation, 100 hours of community service and $3,304 in restitution.

Despite his plea, Bruce Howell said after court Wednesday that he is innocent.

"There were many falsehoods, but I couldn't prove them," he said.

Bruce Howell was actually convicted of child abuse in the Wake County District Court last year, but his conviction and sentence of three consecutive 60-day jail terms was vacated because he appealed the case to Superior Court.

"This has been a matter that has been troubling to him," his attorney, Rusty Dement III, said. "He has maintained from Day 1 that he did not put the nail behind the tire. He has no ill-will toward the mother of the children and certainly would never put those girls in danger."


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  • iwannareply Aug 23, 2012

    After this bump, State Government can continue its mission to hire cousins, cronies, criminals, and quotas.

  • noneoftheabove Aug 23, 2012

    hahahah woowwwww thank you WRAL for posting the video. But I mean, sorry, its not funny... this is quite serious. I just think the fact they caught him and it's posted online is ironically hilarious.

  • highcountry Aug 22, 2012

    Shame on him!!!!!

  • justabumer Aug 22, 2012

    Obamacare returns, I'm also happy that I'm not a police detective but what's your point?

  • BigUNCFan Aug 22, 2012

    I looked at the tape and all I see is a guy bending down near the tire.

    I suspect you can add 2 and 2 together based on that and the fact he submitted an alford plea but the tape itself is inconclusive to me.

    I suspect he did it but if I were him, I would probably have contested the tape since I could not see the nail actually being put down on the tape (there also was some tree blockage as well in the tape.)

  • trustno1 Aug 22, 2012

    These actions from a President of a College! Really, this guy is a creep and deserves to be exposed as such. Criminal activities on his part....JAIL!


  • trustno1 Aug 22, 2012

    I had personal dealings with this man 12 yrs ago and IN MY OPINION he is unethical and this does not surprise me one bit!! No ax to grind here, just my opinion!

  • SFSOLDIER Aug 22, 2012

    These actions from a President of a College! Really, this guy is a creep and deserves to be exposed as such. Criminal activities on his part....JAIL!

  • superman Aug 22, 2012

    Bottom line here is if you have married children stay out of their business..... You cant win by taking sides and trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong. They your grandchildren and if the mother has custody you will have to deal with her the rest of your life.

  • rkbllc Aug 22, 2012

    It was a setup. The video could have been someone picking a coin up off the driveway. Until you have dealt with AsPD you would not understand.