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Harriger trial resumes at courthouse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015 at 11:14 am

Broken pipe damages court stenographer’s computer

ALBION – The trial against Roy Harriger, a local pastor facing child molestation charges, resumed this morning with a complication.

The case went to the jury on Friday, but the 12-person group did not reach a unanimous decision. The jury requested that testimony from three witnesses be read back today.

The court stenographer got 5 minutes into the testimony from one witness but couldn’t go any further. Her computer was doused with water over the weekend when a pipe burst in the basement of the courthouse where the stenographer has her office.

Court officials are working to retrieve the data from her computer so the testimony can be read back to the jury. That has created a lull in courtroom. This morning around 10:30 Harriger chatted with supporters who are sitting on the left side of the courtroom. There are about 25 people on that side.

The other side has about 15 people this morning, including Harriger’s two sons, George and Robert, who allege abuse by their father when their were children. One of George’s children and two of Robert’s children, now grown adults, testified that their grandfather molested them in 2000 and 2001.

Harriger’s attorney Larry Koss said the charges against Harriger, which carry up to 25 years in prison, are false.

Harriger was the pastor at Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Lyndonville when the alleged abuse occurred in 2000 and 2001. After leaving Ashwood in 2009, he started a church in Hartland, Community Fellowship Church, where he continues as a pastor.

Koss told the jury on Friday during closing arguments said the layout of the Harriger house in 2000 and 2001, the church parsonage, didn’t offer privacy for Harriger to commit his alleged crimes. The house was also busy, with people over all of the time, Koss said.

“Jurors, apply common sense and see if the whole story makes sense,” Koss said. “I submit to you it doesn’t.”

During his testimony on Thursday, Harriger denied any inappropriate sexual contact with his grandchildren.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said the grandchildren have been brave in trying to make their grandfather be accountable for the alleged crimes.

“The dysfunction has been going on in this family for generations,” Cardone said. “Thank God they’ve had the strength to come to you to put an end to it and it ends right here.”

As Cardone gave his closing argument, many on the alleged victims’ side of the courtroom plugged their ears, not wanting to hear Cardone detail the alleged sex acts.