Hamblen man charged with child rape
A Hamblen County man who allegedly began an 18-month sexual relationship with a girl when she was 10 years old has been jailed for child rape, a detective said Sunday morning.
Robert Shawn Harris, 33, Panther Creek Road, allegedly had oral, anal or vaginal sex with the girl as late as Thursday, according to Detective Sgt. Statler Collins with the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department.
Harris denied the allegations, but threatened to harm himself when the girl’s mother confronted him, according to Collins, who interviewed the alleged victim at length early Saturday morning.
“She knew things a 12-year-old should not know,” Collins said. “She said she felt like she needed to tell, but never did.”
Harris, a mechanic at a Morristown transmission shop, remained in the Hamblen County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond Sunday morning. The detective said authorities could not rule out the possibility Harris would try to further physically harm the alleged victim.
The alleged sexual assault occurred while the child’s mother was away from the home, according to Collins.
The detective says the mother sensed something was badly amiss Thursday night when she returned home and noticed uncomfortable expressions on her daughter and the suspect’s face.
That’s when the girl opened up to her mother about the alleged serial sex abuse, according to the detective. The suspect left hurriedly and allegedly threatened to harm himself after child’s mother confronted him.
Harris was taken into custody late Thursday night or early Friday morning at his place of employment. He was on probation at the time for a DUI conviction.
The investigation will continue this week with a forensic medical exam of the 12-year-old girl, and a Department of Children’s Services caseworker will conduct a forensic psychological exam of the alleged victim and her two younger sisters, according to the detective.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer