By Sarah Tisinger
MUSCATINE - When a 23-year-old Muscatine man convicted of lascivious acts with a child was released from prison after serving four years of a 15-year sentence, the People of Muscatine exploded.
The outrage began after a July 30 post that appeared on the People of Muscatine Facebook page began taking on a life of its own. The post by the page's administrator was asking about the release of _____ from prison. Howard was sentenced to prison in 2010 after being found guilty of sexually abusing his girlfriend's baby son.
It didn't take long before responses to the post included death threats, graphic descriptions of bodily mutilation, and even jokes about _____'s arrest. The anger wasn't directed entirely at _____. One post said that the child's mother should be "stomped." Another person, who posted a defense of _____, was the target of outrage: "I guess Jessica needs to have her baby molested by this [man] to feel different."
The original post, and others after it, generated several hundred comments, nearly 50,000 views, and attracted the attention of KWQC-TV, who reported on _____'s release under the headline, "Child sex offender released early from prison."
What got lost in the public's outcry was the fact that _____'s release wasn't really early. He was released exactly when the law allowed.