As the investigation into multiple complaints of child sexual assault closed in on Dwayne Bernard Howard, the 43-year-old — already a registered sex offender — knew where he could go to lie low: Prague, Czech Republic, where his friend and fellow expat sex offender Floyd Dwayne Rice lived.
Howard, who returned to the U.S. sometime before 2015, was charged earlier this month by Harris County authorities in relation to the 2010 investigation. He was already in jail in Fort Bend County, awaiting trial on another charge of sexually assaulting a child.
Rice, 51, from Denton County, pleaded guilty in 1998 to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy and for possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to five years in prison, where, he told the Houston Press, he met Howard.
Howard stayed with Rice for a few months, and Rice considered having Howard join his apartment rental business. Howard's name was added to the incorporation papers in 2011. But Rice claimed that he didn't know Howard was on the run — or that he had previously been convicted of indecency with a child, even though they were once in the same prison. (Harris County District Court records show that Howard was charged with aggravated sexual assault in 1998, but pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of indecency with a child, for which he was sentenced to six years. His victim was a five-year-old girl, according to the state sex offender registry.)
"His reason to come to Prague was to see Europe — I mean, that's what he told me," Rice said. "And he visited a couple other countries, a day here, a day there, before he left. Prague was just one stop on his European tour."
Even though Howard had been preying on children before heading to Europe, and — according to Fort Bend County officials — after Prague, Rice assured the Press that he never saw Howard attempt anything with children during his time in the European capital.
"We looked at scenery, we walked over bridges, we went to museums — we don't speak [Czech]," Rice said. "So if you don't speak the language, it's going to be really hard, even if you wanted to go pick up some kid somewhere...you can't do that." (Rice also teaches English in Prague, but he says it's not necessary to know Czech in order to teach it; he also said he does not teach minors.)
"I don't want to be associated with a sex offender," Rice said, explaining that he had to give up his life in Texas and move to Prague for his safety, as well as his family's. He argued that including his name in a story about Howard would only cause more damage. We can see his point — after all, all Rice was doing was trying to be nice to a prison buddy who inexplicably showed up on his doorstep, and whose name Rice included in corporate documentation, all allegedly without knowing what Howard had been in prison for. Makes sense.
Rice said he only saw Howard one time before then — when the latter visited Dallas. According to a Harris County Sheriff's investigator's affidavit filed in Harris County District Court, Howard and a young boy met one of Howard's friends in a Dallas hotel room in or after 2004. The friend also had a young boy with him.
"They all participated simulatneous[ly], in oral sex acts together," the affidavit claims.
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Rice denied being the unidentified friend in that incident. In fact, Rice denied committing the crimes to which he pleaded guilty, claiming he was railroaded. (In his July 2002 appeal, which was denied, Rice claimed more than 40 points of error, many of which are difficult to understand, like his contention that "the crimes that I was accused of were not crimes.")
Rice removed some of his websites after speaking with the Press. On one site, his listed hobbies included "Sex—(Lots of kinky stuff can't list here, more on that one to one. Just ask, and if you share some of yours with me, I'll share my list with you.) :)"
Rice claims that he has to check in with Prague authorities, although not as regularly as he did in Texas. Sex offenders in Texas must notify local law enforcement before moving out of the state, but international moves are less clear-cut. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety explained in an email, "While not addressed in state statute, it is advisable for sex offenders moving to another country to contact the U.S. consulate office in that country.")
We reached out to the Harris County Sheriff's Office with questions about Rice, and about Howard's time in Prague, but haven't heard back.