Local News

Former Wake Tech president charged with child abuse

Posted November 22, 2010

— Police on Sunday charged the retired president of Wake Technical Community College with child abuse, saying he endangered the safety of his three grandchildren.

Bruce Inman Howell, 68, of 1105 Queensferry Road in Cary, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse and one count of injury to personal property. He was released on a $5,000 bond.

Cary police said Howell placed a nail behind the tire of a car in which his three granddaughters, ages 9, 7 and 3, were riding. The car belonged to the children's maternal grandfather, Leonard Avery, police said.

Howell served as president of Wake Tech from 1980 to 2003, and his successor said Monday that he's stunned by the charges, calling Howell a "man of integrity."

"I know that he loves his grandchildren. I know that he would never do anything to endanger his grandchildren," Wake Tech President Steven Scott said.

Cary police said investigators stand by the charges.

Cary Police Department Cary police say case against ex-college president solid

"We're confident in the facts that they absolutely support the charge," Lt. Steve Fonke said. "We deal with a lot of custody disputes – a lot of domestic situations – and they are very emotionally charged."

Howell's son, Bruce Howell Jr., is involved in a heated custody battle with his ex-wife, Kristin Howell. The couple divorced in June, and Bruce Howell Jr. moved out of their Holly Springs home into his parents' home.

Both sets of grandparents have filed motions to allow them to maintain visitation rights with the three children, and the hearing for Bruce Howell Sr. and his wife is scheduled for Nov. 29.

"Our client has every confidence in his father, Bruce Howell Sr., and we are certain these unfortunate allegations against Mr. Howell will be proven false," Kelly Thompson, an attorney for Bruce Howell Jr., said in a statement. "In this case, there have been numerous allegations made, and the children’s interests would best be served by a comprehensive custody evaluation that examines both parties and both sets of grandparents."

Avery's wife, Cindy Avery, declined to comment Monday.

Mable Howell, Bruce Howell Sr.'s wife, also declined to comment, except to say the charges against her husband are false.


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  • trailersnthings Nov 25, 2010

    Mr. and Mrs. Howell, My heart goes out to you in this time of desperation by the family of the ex. Having been on the receiving end of false accuasations during a custody battle, I a can relate and would encourage you to pursue slander charges against the opposition. Take it as a compliment that they have to fabricate something so absurd to try to win. It is very evident to me that you and your family are great people because this is simply an attempt to slander so they can win custody. To the false accusers please read Psalms 37. You will not win in the long run. You will REAP for this wickedness. Stay strong Howell's.

  • pwned Nov 23, 2010

    Labeling him as a child abuser is ABSURD!!!

  • itsmyownopinion Nov 23, 2010

    Quote from news: "We're confident in the facts that they absolutely support the charge," Lt. Steve Fonke said. "We deal with a lot of custody disputes – a lot of domestic situations – and they are very emotionally charged."

    I don't know this man, as many of you claim you do, but I'm surprised at the number of people jumping to his defense and scoffing at the Cary PD. If he did it, it's very juvenile behavior at the very least.

  • mstew8188 Nov 23, 2010

    A nail in her tire?? are you serious??? charges ?? This really makes me mad when there are REAL child crimes being overlooked and to waste precious time with this . It definately STINKS! I say you better have a video or drop this stupid case.Scared to go after REAL criminals?? I will keep this man in my prayers.

  • wewoods Nov 23, 2010

    I knew Dr. Howell for several years and this is totally ridiculous. He is either taking the fall for someone or someone else is trying to stir up trouble. A nail in the tire??? What kind of person thinks that just because you have a nail in your tire it was placed under it by someone?? Witnesses? None. Motive? None. Are you kidding me?? A bad lawyer would have a field day with this and I doubt Dr. Howell will have one of those. I hope when the truth comes out Mom is behind bars for drumming up some stupid story like this. Cary police must be bored or something?

  • anonemoose Nov 22, 2010

    As a 28 year cop, this one stinks. Somebody has something on a magistrate.

  • lshaver Nov 22, 2010

    I say shame on the grandparents on both sides, for acting so inmature and they are reall only hurting the children. what were the kids doing when the cops were there and the grandparents were acting so badly. Dont you think kids should know their entire family? Not just one side. GEEZ Grow Up!!!!! You are the example.....

  • gotsomesense Nov 22, 2010


    I would be surprised if the difference between the headline and the story charges were really a mistake - come on an "abuse" story gets so many more clicks....and yes, I'm serious.

  • bbad238 Nov 22, 2010

    What's the evidence? Woman gets out of car and sees nail under tire? What a silly story and I don't think this should be posted.

  • gotsomesense Nov 22, 2010

    Those of you who think that evidence is required to have charges taken out on an individual are sadly mistaken. I have a rental home and charged a tenant with damage to personal property (one of the same charges this man is under) with nothing more than my word that he rented the house from me and the pictures of the damage. No proof whatsoever that he was the one who had done the damage or even that the pictures came from the house that he rented from me. It is ridiculously easy to bring charges against a person for anything from personal property damage to assault with nothing other than a complainant's word that an event or deed took place...conviction however is another matter.

    Not saying he did or didn't do it - just saying that because he was charged is very little indication of anything.