Air Force chaplain in Texas sentenced to 10 years for soliciting sex from a teenager
Stars and Stripes May 3, 2023
AUSTIN, Texas — An Air Force Reserve chaplain was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for attempting to meet a minor for sex, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Maj. Jesse McKee Howard, 43, was convicted by a federal jury in January of attempted enticement of a minor. In addition to prison, Howard also received 10 years of probation and a $5,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. He also must register as a sex offender.
The San Antonio Police Department arrested Howard on Nov. 12, 2020, as the chaplain thought he was meeting up with a 16-year-old transgender girl, according to court records. Howard had spent the previous days sending messages and sexually explicit photos and videos of himself from his on-base office to undercover agents posing as a teenager.
He arrived at the meetup location in uniform, police said.
At the time of his arrest, Howard was assigned to the 433rd Airlift Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Air Force Base, according to his service record provided by the Air Reserve Personnel Center. He entered the service in March 2005 and has served on at least one overseas deployment to Iraq, according to his awards and decorations.
Air Force officials did not say Wednesday whether his unit has started the process to discharge Howard from the service.
Undercover agents first communicated with Howard in an online chatroom and then moved the conversation to text messaging, according to court documents. In the messages, the agent said his age was 16.
In response to the question, “What are you doing?” Howard responded with a video of himself masturbating in uniform in an office later determined to be a chaplain’s office in the chapel facility at the military base.
Howard set up a time to meet with the teenager for sex on Nov. 12, 2020, near a pet store in San Antonio. When he arrived at the location, police were able to run his license plate and pulled him over as he was leaving the parking lot. Howard texted back-and-forth with undercover agents throughout, even describing being pulled over, according to court documents.
The case moved into federal court, and a jury found Howard guilty in January.