Pastor denies sexual contact with grandchildren
ALBION – A pastor accused of incest and sexual abuse against three of is grandchildren denied the criminal activity today during his trial.
Roy Harriger, 71, took the stand a day after three of grandchildren detailed abuse by their grandfather. Harriger’s son Robert also testified on Wednesday that his father abused him from when he was a young boy into his teen-age years.
Two of Harriger’s other grown children also say their father was sexually abusive when they were children, District Attorney Joe Cardone said in court today.
“You deny all of this?” Cardone asked Harriger.
“Absolutely,” Harriger responded.
Harriger, a former pastor of the Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Lyndonville, denied all of the allegations, including accusations from Cardone that Harriger had sexual relationships with several other women, including one who he allegedly had a child with.
Harriger said he has been faithful for his entire marriage to his wife Darlene. They have been married for more than 50 years.
Harriger said his son George orchestrated the accusations.
“Is it your position they are saying these things because of problems with your son George?” Cardone asked Harriger.
“Absolutely,” he responded.
Harriger’s daughter Joy Fanale spoke in defense of her father, saying he was never abusive to her. Fanale was 24 when she was in a near-fatal car accident on May 1, 2001. She and her daughter, then age 4, moved in with her parents during her recovery.
One of Harriger’s grandsons alleged the grandfather abused him and Fanale’s daughter. But Fanale’s daughter, now 18, testified this morning she was never abused by her grandfather.
“He lied,” she said about her cousin.
She said she was never left alone with her grandfather back in 2001. Harriger is accused of abuse in 2000 and 2001. The granddaughter said her mother was always home when they moved in while Fanale recovering from her injuries, except when she went to a doctor’s appointment. When she went to an appointment, she took her daughter with her or the daughter was in school, the granddaughter said.
Fanale said she sometimes left her daughter alone with Harriger or Mrs. Harriger.
George Harriger, one of the pastor’s sons, has alleged abuse by his father, and he also says Fanale told him their father abused her. But Fanale said she never said that to George.
The case shows a divided family, with Harriger’s wife and one daughter supporting him, while his three other children are estranged from Harriger. Cardone pointed that out in court.
“Is Joy the only child you talk with?” Cardone asked Harriger.
“Yes,” he responded.
Testimony resumes Friday morning at 9:30 with closing arguments expected later in the day.
Orleans County Court Judge James Punch said on Wednesday he was dismissing three misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child due to statue of limitations.
However, the felony charges – course of sexual conduct and incest – remain. Harriger could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.