Somehow, she said, the boy had gotten her cell phone number and the two had begun a series of platonic text messages in October and November. But Howell didn't think anything of it since 25 cheerleaders on the team had her number and texted messaged her also. And she knew of other teachers who texted with their students.
But Howell, whose apartment was photographed by Covington police, learned in early January that there was a warrant out for her arrest. She says a detective told her that she could come in and take a polygraph test that might clear the matter up.
So she did, but not before submitting to a private polygraph, which Howell said she "passed with flying colors."
When Howell got to the police station on Jan. 8, she was told she could not take a polygraph test. After being placed in the waiting room for more than an hour, she was arrested on one count of first-degree sexual abuse.
Her parents bailed her out of jail a few hours later.
"I want to be exonerated," she said. "I want this case to be dimissed."
One motion to dimiss, she said, has already been denied. She's next due in court for a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 28. The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 13.
Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent Gary Rye referred ABCNews.com to the school board's lawyers who declined to comment and made a referral to the county prosecutor.
Kenton County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Stefanie Kastner told ABCNews.com that if convicted, Howell could face one to five years in prison. A person convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, she said, would also have to register as a sex offender for 20 years.
Beyond that, Kastner said there was little information she could release about the prosecution's case.
"I am ethically not permitted to comment on pending cases," she said. "However, if I didn't think I had sufficient proof to obtain a conviction, the case would not have been indicted."
Howell said there is no real evidence that she did anything wrong. Her lawyer, personal injury attorney Eric Deters, told ABCNews.com today that police say phone records prove the two had a relationship.
But Howell said all they found was the trail of text messages she says were platonic.
"This is outrageous," Deters said. "She's the one that reports it."
Deters said he believed the accuser changed his mind about the affair never happening when he learned he could be expelled from school for such a lie. He said he's seen tapes of the accuser's interview with police.
"This kid will not hold up under any reasonable cross-examination at all," he said.
As for Howell, she has no idea who made up the rumor in the first place or why.
"To this day, I don't know," she said. "I've never done anything wrong to the kid."
Howell said she fears that even if the case is dropped or she's acquitted, she will never work as a teacher again once administrators see she's been charged with sexual abuse.
Even getting a new job as a debt collector in the meantime was difficult.
Her advice to other teachers? Be "super cautious" in every dealing with a student.
"I worked so hard to get where I needed to be and start a career," she said. "And it just got ripped away."