Crime

Child sex-assault charges dropped against former Charlotte cop, wife

Prosecutors have dropped child sexual assault charges against a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer and his wife, saying the accuser now refuses to cooperate with the case.

The Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office dismissed the cases against Reginald “Rock” Harris and Dia Harris on Feb. 21. Harris was a 26-year police veteran whose career appeared to have ended with his August 2014 arrest. A CMPD spokesman said Harris officially retired on July 31, 2014.

The Harrises were accused by a relative of having sexually assaulted her starting in 1999, when she was 8. The couple was charged with a list of felony charges, from first-degree sexual offense of a child to indecent liberties and crimes against nature. Then police Chief Rodney Monroe described the accusations against his officer as “deplorable.” The couple said they were not guilty.

Now the case against the Harrises is no more.

In a statement filed with the dismissal, prosecutors said the accuser’s testimony was “critical and necessary to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.” But Assistant District Attorney Donna Price said the victim became less cooperative as the Harrises’ trial approached.

First she moved. Then she changed phone numbers, prosecutors say. When she was finally located, she told Price that she would not testify against the couple, the document says.

Price kept trying, but the woman refused. The charges were dropped. “The District Attorney’s Office does not believe evidence exists, outside of the victim’s testimony, which would allow the state to be successful at trial,” Price’s filing says.

The role of the accuser in the case appeared shaky from the start. In 2009, she first told police about the alleged assaults. But CMPD’s criminal and internal investigations were closed when the woman refused to cooperate. Harris remained on the force, but he was not allowed to handle assignments that involved children, and his reputation was marred.

“Anytime you’re investigated for anything, people are going to look at you differently. And our scrutiny is going to be intensified,” then Deputy Chief Kerry Putney, now chief, said at the time.

The Harrises, who reportedly now live in Atlanta, could not be immediately reached for comment. Public records indicate Reginald Harris filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy last year.

The attorney for the former police officer did not return an Observer phone call seeking comment. Researcher Maria David contributed.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

  Comments