“The former pastor of the Muscoy Unified Methodist Chuch in San Bernardino, who was convicted in October of 32 of counts of sexual abuse, was sentenced to 308 years to life in prison Wednesday, Jan. 24, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office said.
Stephen James Howard, 58, of Fontana, was convicted on 20 counts of lewd acts upon a child, six counts of oral copulation of a person under 16 years old and six counts of sodomy of a person under 18, a district attorney’s news release said. He is currently being housed at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, jail records showed.
“Thanks to the hard work of our prosecutor and the Family Violence Unit support staff we were able to remove this child predator from our community and put him behind bars where he belongs for the rest of his life,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said in a statement.
Howard was arrested and charged in March 2014, according to court records. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detectives investigated reports that Howard had molested boys at several locations, including San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, sheriff’s officials said.
The department’s Crimes Against Children assumed the case and found two victims, a 14-year-old boy and a 23-year-old man from Rancho Cucamonga, sheriff’s officials said. The older victim said he had been abused since he was 9 and it continued into adulthood, authorities noted.
Twelve of the counts took place between 1990 and 2000, according to court records. The most recent acts happened between 2011 and 2014. His convictions involved four boys.
“At the time of his arrest, the victims ranged in age from 14 to 36,” Supervising Deputy District Attorney Bobby Mann, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement in the release.
“(Howard) was the pastor, mentor and father figure to all of these victims. Their bravery in coming forward and courage in testifying has ensured that this predator will not walk the streets again,” Mann said.”