Pastor Accused of Molestation, Attempts Suicide in Court
Rev. James Richard Harris sat silent and without any show of emotion during his three-day trial, but what wasn’t known is that he was planning to attempt suicide. On Thursday, Aug. 9, after Harris was convicted of sex crimes involving juveniles, he made an attempt to swallow a handful of white pills.
Rev. Harris was grabbed by courtroom deputies who tried to force him to spit the pills out as he was removed from the West Palm Beach courthouse. Harris wrestled with the deputies and after they calmed him down, West Palm Beach Fire Rescue was called to the scene and immediately confiscated the pills so that they could find out exactly what he had taken.
The charge that Rev. Harris faced was that he perpetrated sex crimes on a a 15-year-old boy in 2008 and 2009. Rev. Harris reportedly approached the victim, an athlete, with stories about having many contacts that could help him, like trainers that could get him into the NFL.
The teenager testified that Rev. Harris preformed acts of a sexual nature on him two times and even videotaped the encounters. The prosecutors in the case played the videos in court. And it gets worse — in one of the videos, the teenager is seen having sexual intercourse with his 14-year-old girlfriend. The teenage girl was unaware of Rev. Harris’ presence, videotaping them and immediately left when she heard him talking.
After deliberating for a short time the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all charges: lewd and lascivious battery; lewd and lascivious conduct; sexual activity with a minor; showing obscene material to a minor and two counts of promoting sexual performance by a minor.
After his pill-popping episode, Rev. Harris was removed from the courtroom in a stretcher and handcuffs. The convicted preacher has been placed on suicide watch, which means that he will be closely observed at Palm Beach County jail, where he will remain until he goes back to court for his sentencing hearing.