Local News

Former Wake Tech president convicted of child abuse

Posted February 14, 2011

— A judge on Monday found the retired president of Wake Technical Community College guilty of child abuse, saying he endangered the safety of his three grandchildren.

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

Avery testified during a brief non-jury trial Monday that he suspected Howell was putting nails in his tires after he had multiple flats soon after picking up the children from Howell's home.

"Once the kids were in the car, I watched my rear-view mirror, and I watched him duck behind the right back tire on the passenger side and disappear out of sight," Avery testified.

He hired a private investigator, who caught Howell on videotape ducking down behind the car.

Howell, who served as president of Wake Tech from 1980 to 2003, testified that he was picking up a granola bar wrapper, not putting a nail in the tire.

District Judge Jennifer Green didn't believe Howell's explanation and convicted him on three counts of misdemeanor child abuse and one count of injury to personal property.

Howell, 68, of 1105 Queensferry Road in Cary, was sentenced to consecutive 60-day jail terms on the charges, which Green suspended to unsupervised probation and 75 hours of community service.

Bruce Howell in court Former Wake Tech president convicted of child abuse

His family has maintained that the charges stemmed from a heated custody dispute between Howell's son, Bruce Howell Jr., and his ex-wife, Kristin Howell. The couple divorced last June, and Bruce Howell Jr. moved out of their Holly Springs home into his parents' home.

Both sets of grandparents have sought to maintain visitation rights with the three children.

As part of Howell's sentence, he cannot have any contact with his grandchildren without his son's supervision.

He declined to comment as he left court.

"It was really a relief to get this behind us and (make) our grandchildren safe again," Avery said after the trial.


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  • tarheelfan41 Feb 15, 2011

    IMO this kinda trivalizes actual child abuse. check a person's record and see child abuse and one would think of someone harming a child. Now it could be almost anyting even rather trival stuff.

  • itsmyownopinion Feb 15, 2011

    I saw the video. I agree with the judge. I notice a number of posters think whatever a grandparent does to put their grandchildren at risk is OK with them. Remember when there were no seatbelts, no car seats for babies? When you know better, you do better. The man knew better.

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Feb 15, 2011

    Interesting. They charge him with endangering the children in the car, but not the adult? Hmmm.....

  • pw Feb 15, 2011

    This is absurd .......Child Abuse.....Really.....endangerment? What wussies....This judge needs to go...I will be watching. No wonder are children are messed up. Over coddled indeed.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 14, 2011

    This is why politicians shouldn't be elected as judges.

    Judges should be appointed because of their legal knowledge and skills.

  • readerman Feb 14, 2011

    When this was first reported, the current president of Wake Tech came to Howell's defense and said he didn't do it. Admit that he was wrong and post my comment.

  • GOPACK80 Feb 14, 2011

    A grand jury did not indict.
    The charges were only misdemeanors.

  • GOPACK80 Feb 14, 2011

    howdiditgettothis - the maternal grandfather was the driver.
    If/when the tire went flat, I feel sure he could have changed it with no harm to the kids.

  • jimcool59 Feb 14, 2011

    "No harm-no foul" ........you've got to be kidding.

    I don't believe you'd feel the same way if you were the victim.

    Additionally, there are PLENTY of pedophiles, and other criminals who lead otherwise "normal" lives. It doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished for their crime.
    February 14, 2011 5:31 p.m.

    well glory be dippy, must of us could see this coming. A nail biter is now compared to a pedophile. Wonder which should have to register a sex offender the nial or the tire. Its obovious he isn,t one. Theyed have deballed him in that yoyo court.

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Feb 14, 2011

    This case should have never made it past the grand jury.