Kingsburg man accused of sex crimes changes plea in court

Brittany Jacob Image
Friday, September 16, 2022
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A 19-year-old Kingsburg man accused of sexually abusing multiple underage teens changed his plea to "not guilty" on Thursday.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was a fairly quiet day in court on Thursday.

A major contrast from last month, when 19-year-old Brandon Howard was caught by surprise as the family of one of his alleged victims went after him.

Thursday, no one was in court other than the attorneys and the judge.

Judge Skiles decided not to follow the indicated sentence he'd originally given Howard.

With that plea deal off the table, the defendant withdrew his guilty plea and re-entered his plea of "not guilty."

It was a bittersweet moment for the victim's family as they're hoping for a trial.

"This is not a happy situation," a victim's mother said. "But a little relieved because I believe that a jury of our peers would be able to understand and convict this Brandon Howard for the awful acts he did. Not only to my child, but other children here in Kingsburg."

According to authorities, more than two years ago, Howard used his position at a retail store to coerce underage teens into sexual activity.

In May, Howard admitted to three felony sex crimes involving minors.

"It's very heartbreaking when your son comes to you telling you that he's been raped and molested," a victim's father said.

When Howard appeared in court in August, the victim's mother shoved Howard, and the father and brother also lunged in his direction.

"I snapped and I am not proud of myself but as a mother, we can only take so much," she said.

The family says the case has had a devastating impact on their life and finances.

The victim's mother says while she worries for her son's safety since since Howard is out of custody, she trying to maintain hope in the justice system.

"When does my child get his freedom back because Brandon Howard has his freedom, he can go anywhere," she said.