UPDATED 11/9/2019 to reflect Mr. Howard's attorneys' comments.
Charges of solicitation of sodomy and pandering against Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard have been dropped. The charges stemmed from conduct alleged to have occurred in 2017 and 2018 at Fort Valley State University.
“Due to Mr. Howard’s lack of criminal history, he was allowed to enter into a pre-trial diversion agreement that required him to complete 25 hours of community service, attend a class about the dangers of prostitution and pay a $250 fine,” said Amy Leigh Womack, an officer with the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, in an email. “Our office dismissed the charges against him after receiving notice of Mr. Howard completing these requirements on Nov. 4.”
Howard was one of seven men indicted in April in Macon as a result of a prostitution sting in Fort Valley. Howard turned himself in Oct. 23, 2018 and later bonded out at $3,500.
A statement from Mr. Howard's attorneys read as follows:
“Mr. Howard denied any wrongdoing from the beginning of this case and pled not guilty requesting a jury trial. After a review of the GBI’s file, it was clear that Mr. Howard was not guilty of any crime and as a result, the D.A. offered a resolution that affords Mr. Howard complete and immediate exoneration with a dismissal of all charges. Mr. Howard has maintained his innocence from the beginning and maintains his innocence today.” - Joel Osteen, Osteen Law Group.
Howard along with city employees Holly Fields and Neisha Williams and council Vicky Nelson are still named in a sexual harassment complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by city employee Darnyell Barboa.
In the EEOC complaint, filed Oct. 11 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Barboa alleges Howard made sexual advances toward her from April 2017 to June 2017 and that she was subjected to several attempts of retaliation by Williams, Fields and Nelson.