LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — A Lancaster County man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting an Indiana girl waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon on numerous charges.
38-year-old Andrew Howland who was arrested December 2, at a hotel in West Hempfield Township, waived the hearing after a conversation via video with his attorney.
District Judge Miles Bixler then bound over the case to Lancaster County Court where Howland faces felony charges of kidnapping and unlawful contact with a minor and six other offenses.
There were no changes Wednesday to Howland’s bail which remains at $575,000, according to Assistant District Attorney Amy Muller.
Police say Howland drove to Indiana to pick up an Indiana girl on the morning of December first. Howland then drove back to Lancaster County, taking the girl to area hotels.
Investigators say Howland took the 13-year-old to the Comfort Suites off of Route 283, and then to a Comfort Inn in West Hempfield Township.
The girl told police that Howland sexually assaulted her.
Investigators say that Howland met the girl on social media and court documents reveal that the two were exchanging sexual messages on Facebook before the kidnapping.
Howland is charged with a total of six felonies − on two separate court dockets − including kidnapping for ransom, unlawful contact with a minor – sexual offenses, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor, statutory sexual assault, aggravated assault and interference of custody of children. He’s also charged with a misdemeanor count of corruption of minors.
Susan Billy teaches children how to stay safe online for the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.
Billy told ABC 27 News that this case is a reminder that some people are looking to prey on children online.
According to billy, children are now more susceptible to potential criminals because they are using technology for learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Billy had this advice for parents to keep their children safe online.
“It’s just really important that you talk with your children,” Billy said. “Having regular communication and having an understanding of what is regular behavior for my child and when things are different engaging in conversation.”
She also suggested that parents have access to their children’s social media accounts.
The girl who was kidnapped is in custody of social services because she was reported as a runaway, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office said.
Here is a list of where you can find more resources to keep children safe online:
- Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Lancaster YWCA
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