As a follow-up to a story posted Wednesday, the jury has found Rev. James Richard Harris guilty of lewd and lascivious battery and five other charges involving minors.
A jury this afternoon convicted Rev. James Richard Harris of lewd and lascivious battery and other charges connected to allegations that he molested a 15-year-old under the guise of making him a football star, and videotaped him and others engaged in sexual acts.
as soon as Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes told him that he would have to go to jail until his Oct. 5, he pulled a handful of pills out of his pocket and tried to swallow them, reaching for a cup on water on the defense table. Court deputies quickly tackled him and ordered him to spit them out, and deputies cleared the courtroom.James Richard Harris faces up to 80 years in prison and his sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5th. It is believed Harris molested hundreds of young boys, but, as is the case in many pedophile trials, getting victims to come forward to testify is difficult.
Survivors of child sexual abuse often do not speak about the abuse they suffered as children, even as fully functioning adults. We bury it - try not to think about it - some out of shame, embarassment, or repression.
I hope that as more of these cases are successfully prosecuted more victims and survivors will find the strength to speak up, to tell their truth, knowing that they we will believe them. That the courts and, more importantly, the court of public opinion now take seriously allegations of child sexual abuse and are holding the pedophiles accountable instead of blaming the victims. For far too long, this has been our burden to bear - our shame, our blame, our fault. But no more. Slowly the realization is setting in that child sexual abuse is a very real problem in this society.
It does not surprise me that the victims/survivors are the true heroes in all of this. Speaking their truth, standing up and facing their abusers, something I was unable to do.
It is only in silence and shadows that pedophiles can continue abusing children. As evidenced by those brave young men in Pennsylvania and these brave victims in Florida, speaking up can stop pedophiles from abusing again.