Unfortunately, it’s far too easy for adults in a position of power to prey on kids, especially if they can lure them with the promise of access to a dream of a lifetime - awe can overwhelm juvenile common sense and lead to horrible outcomes. Such seems to be the case in Belle Glade, FL, where the PALM BEACH POST reports that Rev. Richard Harris has been arrested and charged with allegedly enticing teenage boys into sexual situations, using the promise of his “NFL contacts” as a lure.
Harris had allegedly claimed to know several NFL players, including local hero Ray Lewis, and would tell eager high school football players that he could help their career by getting them private workouts with top trainers and meetings with scouts and NFL players. The only catch was that they had to perform sexual acts with him, and be taped having sex with other people.
In fact, it was those tapes that might be Harris’ downfall. WPBF-TV says that Harris had originally called police in March to complain that his DVD player had been stolen. The next day, someone called police to say that they had video of Harris engaging in lewd acts with minors. This includes Harris filming a 16-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl having sex without their knowledge, and Harris showing up as a reflection in the mirror of another sexual video involving a different 16-year-old.
Harris is a well-known figure in the community, having unsuccessfully run for various political offices several times. He is perhaps best known for getting arrested outside a polling place in March after taking a baseball bat and trying to gerrymander the face of a volunteer of his rival for City Council outside of a polling place:
Harris was charged with aggravated battery after Tamara Martin said he grabbed a bat and swung it in her direction. Martin claimed Harris yelled at her and told her to stop “talking to my people” and said he was going to “crack some heads” when he grabbed the bat. Harris later said he was defending himself, but deputies did not find any weapons on Martin or in her truck, according to a sheriff’s report.
Along with his interest in politics, Harris has also latched on to the Glade Central High School football team, talking to players and parents, allegedly selling himself as a role model while trying to find more players to buy into his sick scam. Not everyone was fooled:
“I would always see him out there,” said the mother of a current Glades Central football player. “He told me my son was a really good player and he needed to keep his grades up.”
“He was always trying to recruit the kids,” she added. “I knew about him, so I told my son to stay away.”
If this parent knew enough to keep her kid away from Harris, why didn’t the school’s administration do the same? It’s not like his checkered past wasn’t well known: He had been arrested more than 30 times since 1967, on charges including fraud, marijuana possession, assault and battery. I’m thinking you haven’t heard the last of this case.