Ex-Episcopal priest accused of child sex assaults in the North Carolina mountains

An ex-Episcopal priest imprisoned in Massachusetts for decades-old child sex crimes is now accused of sexually assaulting two children in the North Carolina mountains.

A Haywood County grand jury has indicted 76-year-old Howard "Howdy" Willard White Jr. on sex assault charges involving a girl and a boy, The Mountaineer newspaper in Waynesville reported. White is accused of the assaults when he served as rector of Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains in Waynesville in the 1980s, according to the newspaper.

The charges are first-degree forcible rape, second-degree forcible rape, second-degree forcible sexual offense and indecent liberties with a child, Asheville ABC-TV affiliate WLOS reported.

White is serving 18 months in a Massachusetts prison after pleading guilty to five counts of assault and battery involving sexual abuse of a teenager in the 1970s, The Mountaineer reported.

According to the Boston Globe, White was associate chaplain at St. George’s School in Rhode Island at the time. He admitted to molesting a teenager on two trips to Boston in 1973.

The charges stemmed from a Rhode Island State Police investigation into sexual assaults by former faculty and students at the elite prep school, the Globe reported.

In a 2016 investigative article, the Globe reported claims against at least 67 private New England schools involving more than 200 victims.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak.