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Last week, a police officer here in Charlotte was arrested for molesting a young relative of his more than a decade ago.  However, he would have been brought to justice a lot sooner if the victim's relatives and church members hadn't pressured her into keeping quiet.  This is not only wrong, it's criminal--and they need to be up before a judge as well.  Tell the city's police chief to arrest them all.  I mentioned this last night, but I'm reposting to get more eyes on this so we can keep the pressure on.

On Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Reginald "Rock" Harris was arrested for molesting a relative of his from 1999 to 2002--from the time she was eight until she turned 11.  His wife, Dia, was also arrested at the same time; police say that she was complicit in the abuse.  Both are charged with three counts each of first degree sex offense on a child, taking indecent liberties with a minor and crime against nature, and Dia Harris faces additional charges of felony child abuse.  If convicted on all charges, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.  In North Carolina, sexual assault on a child younger than 13 carries a minimum sentence of 25 years per count; at their ages, a conviction on two of those charges will amount to a life sentence.

If it could possibly get more ghastly than that, it turns out that this woman reached out for help to members of her family and church--and they told her not to come forward.

Police have not released the victim’s name or said how she was related to the Harrises, who have several children. The victim was 8 years old when the first alleged sexual assault took place in 1999.

She confided in adult family members and church members about the abuse, said CMPD Deputy Chief Kerr Putney, but was encouraged to not report the crimes.

“At a young age, 8, 9 years old, our victim was reaching out for help to adults in various institutions … and all of those institutions failed our victim,” Putney said. “You had family members, you had people within church institutions who were reached out to, most of which encouraged the victim not to move forward.”

Putney wouldn’t identify the church institutions or say which members the victim spoke to.

He said investigators stopped just short of charging some of those people with obstruction of justice.

The woman had actually first gone to police in 2009, with the encouragement of a social worker.  However, she abruptly stopped cooperating, and the investigation stalled.  Now it turns out that family and church members pressured her into recanting.

Given the circumstances, unless police are still gathering evidence, I don't understand why no one else has been charged yet.  These people didn't just blow off this brave woman's claims.  They actively pressured her into not telling anyone.  That's absolutely heinous--and absolutely criminal.  This is one thing that society simply cannot tolerate.

It's good that the Harrises are finally off the streets.  But there won't really be justice unless everyone--and that means EVERYONE--responsible for pressuring this girl into silence is in an orange jumpsuit as well.  I started a petition to area police chief Rodney Monroe urging him to bring charges against everyone who discouraged this girl from coming forward.  Sign here.

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