MONTAGUE CO. (KFDX/KJTL) — A former Nocona banker and rancher with possible connections to missing teen Caleb Diehl now faces new charges of child sexual exploitation and pornography.
Ricky Dale Howard, 59, pleaded not guilty to a new four-count federal indictment in U.S. Northern District Court, according to The Bowie News.
The charges were filed May 12 and Howard was arraigned May 17.
Howard was previously arrested February 12 on a federal indictment for sexual exploitation of a minor that alleged Howard induced or coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and imaged were recorded and stored in a computer.
A special agent of the FBI obtained images and included them in the sealed complaint.
The agent said 300 images of child pornography in Howard’s laptop included images of the missing teen when he was a minor, taken over a period of several years.
The agent said he also found four images showing Howard in sexual conduct with the boy and the missing boy’s family estimated him to be 13 to 15 years old then.
The family said the boy routinely visited Howard from the ages of 13 to 15, and that the images were taken in a camper trailer owned by Howard.
Howard was placed in custody in Wichita County Jail following his release from state prison after serving a five-year sentence on 11 counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Howard had been convicted of federal bank fraud about 10 years earlier.
The gun sentence came a year after he was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in two separate cases after two men came forward and said they had been assaulted multiple times in the ’90s while working for Howard.
One was 12-years-old and the other 13-years-old at the time.
The then 13-year-old estimated he was assaulted about 500 times.
Howard was arrested on those charges in 2015 during an investigation of the disappearance of 18-year-old Caleb Diehl of Nocona, who also worked part-time for Howard.
Authorities said Diehl was in a truck owned by Howard in March of 2015 when he disappeared, and the truck was seen on Howard’s property a few days later.
While these new federal charges and the sexual assault charges came as a result of the investigation into the unsolved disappearance of Caleb Diehl, that missing person case remains open.