Murray jury finds man guilty in molestation case

Randall Harris

A Chatsworth man was found guilty Friday of aggravated child molestation and 11 other charges relating to two victims under the age of 16.

Randall Troy Harris, 65, of 218 Blankenship Road, was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, four counts of child molestation, two counts of influencing a witness, two counts of sexual battery and incest. District Attorney Bert Poston said the jury was "out not more than an hour" after four days of testimony.

Harris is in the Murray County jail and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2019. According to Poston, he faces up to 132 years plus two life sentences.

According to Murray County Sheriff’s Office investigative records, one of the victims — 12 years old when the abuse was reported in 2015 — claimed Harris had sex with her “many times, possibly more than 100.”

At trial, the prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer, played a taped telephone conversation between Harris and one of the victims where he offered each victim $100 "if they would keep quiet about what he did to them."

During original interviews with the victims, one of the victims confirmed that the abuse happened, while the other denied it. She later told an investigator that she denied the abuse because of the money that Harris offered and his offer to let the victims move in with someone else.

According to an incident report, the abuse was originally reported to the Murray County Division of Family and Children Services in March 2015 by a counselor in the school system, who had been told of the abuse by one of the victims.

"Harris’ abuse of two victims occurred over a period of years before either disclosed and reported the abuse," Poston said. "Ultimately, the report came through the school system and we applaud these victims for having the courage to come forward and report the abuse and cooperate with the investigation and prosecution.

"We would also like to thank the jury for their service and thank those involved in the investigation, including Detective Brett Morrison of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office, forensic interviewer Melissa Wells with The GreenHouse child advocacy center as well as a number of individuals with the Murray County School System and the Murray County Division of Family and Children Services," Poston said.

Judge William T. Boyett presided over the trial at the Murray County Courthouse and began with jury selection Dec. 3.

Calls to Calhoun attorney Giles Jones, who represented Harris, were not immediately returned.

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