Monday, January 30, 2012

Church worker arrested for sex crime against a young girl

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A church employee accused of a sex crime against a young girl is out of a job.

William Harrison, Jr. was arrested by Williamston Police Friday.

He is charged with two counts of lewd act on a minor.

Police say the crimes happened in Williamston, where Harrison lives.

Harrison was already on the Sex Offender Registry from a 1997 arrest and conviction of 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Records show he did jail time and was released in 2004.

Three years later, he came to Redemption World Outreach Center on Haywood Road in Greenville and was hired with a criminal background.

The church says they immediately fired Harrison after finding out about his latest arrest. 7 On Your Side wanted to know why Harrison was hired in the first place with a criminal background.

The church says he worked off campus as a manager of halfway houses.

Anytime Harrison had to come to campus, the staff says he was always supervised and he was not allowed to be alone with children.

“We knew when he was going to be here,” explains Pastor Travis Hayes. “When he was not going to be here, he checked in with his supervisor when he came to work every Sunday, and so that's how we made sure we knew where he was.”

The church says they hired Harrison to give him a second chance.

He remains in jail Monday night. A judge denied bond over the weekend.

Thousands of kids are on the campus of Redemption World Outreach Center for church activities and for school. That's one reason Pastor Travis Hayes says the church does criminal background checks before it hires someone. Hayes says, “The security staff was well aware of his (Harrison’s) background, his run-in, his incarceration.”

The church hired Harrison a registered sex offender in 2007. The South Carolina Sex Offender Registry shows Harrison was convicted of second degree criminal sexual conduct in 1997, and he was released from prison in 2004. Hayes says, “As a church, we kind of felt like if he couldn't get a second chance with us, where could he get a second chance from?” Hayes says Harrison worked off campus at the church's halfway houses. Hayes says, “We brought him on board specifically to work with those adults in those halfway houses.”

Hayes says Harrison was on campus as a church member and for a few work-related activities, but that he was never left alone with kids. Hayes says, “He checked in with his supervisor when he came to work every Sunday, and so that's how we made sure we knew where he was.”

The church says it fired Harrison after he was arrested Friday, accused of another sex crime against a child. 7 On Your Side asked, in the future, will registered sex offenders get a second chance with the church? Harrison says, “We always sit back and look and see is there something we can do different? Is there something we can do better?” Hayes adds that the church would never hire a sex offender to work directly with kids. He says in light of the situation with Harrison, the church will review its hiring process to determine if any changes need to be made.


http://www2.wspa.com/news/2012/jan/30/4/sex-offender-fired-church-after-second-charge-ar-3139566/

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