A former teacher and basketball coach at Mariner High School in Cape Coral has been sentenced to 11 years in state prison after pleading guilty to one count of sexual assault in a school on Monday.
One count of sexual assault by a 24-year-old adult or older on a victim 16 or younger, was dismissed.
46-year-old James Harris was originally charged with two counts of sexual assault after a female student came forward and told authorities that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Harris in 2016. He allegedly sexually assaulted the student in the classroom and at his home.
These assaults happened when the student was between 16 and 17 years old. The last incident occurred in January 0f 2017.
Harris was declared a sexual predator and will be required to register for the rest of his life. He will also serve 48 months of sex offender probation after his release and must provide a DNA sample for placement in a state database.
According to court documents, Harris also fathered a child with one of his former students several years ago.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard represents survivors of sexual crimes in civil lawsuits. Here is some insight from Michael on how the civil court system can help these survivors find justice and financial compensation:
The whole community is affected when news breaks that a teacher, coach, or other school employee has sexually assaulted a student. The victims and their families are traumatized and other students and parents often suffer from their own trauma over these heinous violations of the public trust. Our schools must be aware of the threat that sexual predators pose and act accordingly in order to keep their students safe from these threats. When they fail to do so, they could be held liable for damages if the victims and their families decide to file a lawsuit.
For example, a school might be considered liable if there were reports of sexual misconduct by a teacher but the school failed to notify law enforcement in a timely manner.
Has your child come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by a teacher, coach, or another school employee? We understand how painful this time is for your family and we want to help. Consider contacting one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyers to learn more about your family's legal options.