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American Airlines manager arraigned on federal charge of enticing a minor

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Ray Howland.

A former senior manager for American Airlines has pleaded not guilty to arranging a sexual encounter with a woman and her 10-year-old daughter during a business trip to Pittsburgh.

Ray Wickliffe Howland, 55, of Arlington, Texas, waived his right to appear for his arraignment Monday in federal court, Downtown, and entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan through his attorney, Frank Walker.

Howland is free on a $50,000 unsecured bond, according to court records.

“He’s no longer with American,” airline spokesman Ross Feinstein said.

He is living with relatives in the Atlanta area instead of his Texas home, where his wife and children reside, Walker said. A condition of his pretrial release is that he have no contact with minors.

Walker said he and his client want to review the evidence the government turned over in the case before proceeding.

Howland started working for American Airlines in 1989 as a flight dispatcher and dispatcher instructor, attorney general spokesman Jeff Johnson said. He previously worked as a dispatcher for two regional airlines.

Howland received some of the first calls about the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11 and is mentioned in several footnotes of The 9/11 Commission report.

The attorney general’s Child Predator Section built the case in June because investigators said he posted an online sex ad seeking a “family or a couple of girls” in the Moon area.

Of 115 arrests the section has made since January, seven are “traveler” cases like Howland where the suspect took a trip to have sex with a minor, Johnson said.

“We’ve had several so-called travelers this year,” he said.

The largest number of the unit’s arrests are for child pornography and are often developed from its monitoring of peer-to-peer file sharing networks used to exchange videos and images.

Other cases come from posing as minors in chat rooms frequented by predators, and the office scans online classifieds, Johnson said.

Howland traveled to Pittsburgh monthly on business and posted the ad to arrange a sexual encounter for June 26.

“I’d love to find a mother/daughter, pair (or more) of sisters, or a couple of young women that were interested in getting together for some fun tonight…,” the ad said.

In subsequent email messages with an undercover agent posing as a 32-year-old single mother from Moon with a 10-year-old daughter, Howland said he was “fine with her age” and described the sex acts he was interested in, according to the affidavit by Special Agent Duane Tabak of the attorney general’s Child Predator Section.

In subsequent text messages he thought he was exchanging with the 10-year-old, Howland again discussed the sex acts he’s interested in.

Police arrested Howland June 26 when he showed up for the meeting. A federal grand jury indicted him Aug. 5 on one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

During a police interview at the Moon police station, Howland said he had posted the ad at least twice before but this was the first time he set up an encounter. He told police that he attempted to arrange sex with a man’s 12-year-old daughter through a chat room, “but that family never showed up,” Tabak said in the affidavit.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301.

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