Registered sex offender arrested at fair

MARIETTA – A registered sex offender was arrested Sunday while working a children’s ride at the Washington County Fair.

James G. Harris Jr., 35, of 306 Third St. Apt. A, Lowell, was arrested Sunday afternoon on a warrant for failure to register a change of address, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

“One of our deputies recognized him as someone we had a warrant for,” said Mincks.

Harris was arrested on two counts, failure to register a change of address, a third-degree felony, and failure to verify, a fourth-degree felony.

Harris was required to register as a Tier 1 sex offender after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of gross sexual imposition in March 2012. He pleaded guilty to fondling a 4-year-old Lowell girl over 13 years earlier. The victim’s mother had reportedly contacted Washington County Children Services about the abuse in 1999, but the original report could not be found.

Throughout the course of the investigation, Harris admitted to the fondling.

Tier 1 offenders are required to inform the county sheriff’s office when they moved and are required to report in person to the sheriff’s office once a year. Harris failed to do these things, Mincks said.

His employment running a children’s ride at the fair Saturday and Sunday was not illegal, but the Washington County Sheriff’s Office tries to discourage ride companies from hiring registered sex offenders, said Mincks.

“We usually try to go through and run all the employees and bring it to the attention of the employer if a sex offender has been hired,” he said.

While Harris was employed at the fair for a day before being arrested, he is not believed to have posed a risk, said Mincks.

“We have not received any complaints,” he said.

Harris was being held Monday at the Washington County Jail on $10,000 bond.