BOONVILLE, Mo. - Just hours after a former Boonville priest is convicted of sexually abusing several young boys, the families of the victims are sharing their stories, hoping the man they say destroyed their lives will hear them.
Gerald Howard plead guilty Tuesday to two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of attempted forcible sodomy.
It was part of a plea deal that happened just days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
Howard was sentenced to 12 years on each of the counts to run concurrently.
But families of the victims are saying 12 years doesn't seem like enough.
One mother brought a letter she wrote to the former priest and shared it with ABC 17 News.
"I wanted to say: Dear Father Jerry; As a mother I keep wondering what caused you to do this, to prey on these young children?," she said.
She wanted to remain anonymous so her son could too, hoping that would bring some normalcy back to his life after all these years.
Still reading her letter, she said," I pray for you each and every day that you understand the result of your actions."
She asked questions she's wanted to ask since she first learned her son was one of Howard's victims.
"Were you mocking us as parents and instilling fear through your messages into our children?"
And it wasn't just Howard she was upset with. She called out former officials of St. Peter and Paul Church in Boonville who allowed Howard to transfer there after he had been convicting of molesting another boy in New Jersey while he was a priest there. Howard even changed his name before starting his clerical duties in Boonville.
"I put my trust in God and I pray that people who have excused you and other priests' bad behavior will see the blood of Jesus on their hands, their hearts, their souls," she continued.
And although she doesn't think 12 years is enough to serve justice, she says it's enough to help her move on.
"I was angry at first but now the horrible pain you've cause in my child's life...it's helped me to understand him better...love him more... for telling the truth," she wrote.
Howard is no longer a priest in the Catholic Church. He was de-frocked a little more than a year ago.