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Woman: Station’s music chief slapped me

Incident happened in women’s restroom at Target store

Howington-2-17

Mark Wayne Howington, 52, of Maumee faces charges of simple assault, obstructing official business, and carrying a concealed weapon. He was arrested Thursday, appeared in court Friday on the charges, and was released from the Lucas County jail on Saturday after posting a $1,000 bond.

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A local Christian radio station music director is accused of slapping a stranger on the butt in the women’s bathroom of a Target store.

Mark Wayne Howington, 52, of Maumee faces charges of simple assault, obstructing official business, and carrying a concealed weapon. He was arrested Thursday, appeared in court Friday on the charges, and was released from the Lucas County jail on Saturday after posting a $1,000 bond.

Mr. Howington is one half of the morning show on Proclaim FM, WPOS-FM 102.3 in Holland, a Christian radio station. He also serves as the music director. A station employee said Tuesday that Mr. Howington is on leave from the station and referred comment to Barry Fissel, an attorney for Eastman & Smith.

Mr. Fissel, who is on the radio station’s board of directors, said the board learned of the charges Saturday and placed Mr. Howington on leave, pending further information. He said the alleged actions are “out of character” for Mr. Howington, and station staff don’t know how to explain the conduct.

Afternoon host Cliff Smithers is filling in for Mr. Howington.

“The station is very concerned for the well-being of the woman who reported Mark’s conduct and for her family, as well as for Mark and his family,” Mr. Fissel said.

Mr. Howington, according to a biography on the radio station’s website, is married with two children. He could not be reached for comment.

According to police affidavits, a woman said she was entering the women’s bathroom of Target, 817 W. Alexis St., on Thursday when the door was “violently pulled” inward by Mr. Howington, who was inside the bathroom. As she passed him, Mr. Howington “slapped her butt cheek really hard,” according to the police report. The woman said she does not know Mr. Howington.

In an interview with The Blade, the woman said that she was at Target at about 5 p.m. with her niece shopping for Valentine’s Day and birthday gifts for her husband when she went to the bathroom. When the door opened suddenly and a man appeared, she briefly thought she was at the wrong bathroom but tried to walk past the man when she realized it was the women’s.

When she was hit on the left side of her butt, she said, she went to a manager and asked for security, while the man who smacked her quickly left the store.

“He just hit me really hard,” she said. “Didn’t say a word; just kept walking.”

The incident “scared her half to death,” she said. A search for the man outside was initially unsuccessful, but she later spotted him in the parking lot, and it appeared he was trying to pry open a car door, she said.

He turned and tried to walk away, but she chased him into a nearby department store, where police apprehended him, she said.

When officers arrived, they approached Mr. Hownington, who had his hand in his pocket, according to police reports. When he pulled his hand out of his pocket, officers saw the sharp end of a screwdriver sticking out of his pocket, leading to the concealed weapon charge. He refused to give his name to police, prompting the obstruction charge.

The woman said she didn’t realize who the man was until informed by the media.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, you have to be kidding me’,” she said.

Mr. Howington was also recently listed as the connections pastor at The Dwelling Place, an Assembly of God Church with locations in Holland and Swanton. A message for the church’s lead pastor was not returned.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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