Vice principal Harris arrested

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2003

John Harris has been arrested on two felony counts of sodomy.

Harris, who served as vice principal at Southside High School until placed on administrative leave April 10, turned himself in at the Dallas County Jail with his attorney, William Faile, Wednesday evening.

According to Faile, Harris was booked and made bond that day. &uot;We were just processed in, he was able to sign a bond and we left,&uot; Faile said.

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Harris’ arrest stemmed from two indictments handed down by the Dallas County grand jury last week for sodomy first degree and sodomy second degree.

Ten witnesses, including Dallas County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Roy Freine, are listed on the indictment sheet.

Concerning the indictments, Faile noted that his client has been involved in education for 37 years and enjoys an excellent reputation in the teaching profession. &uot;He has denied these allegations,&uot; Faile said. &uot;While we’re disappointed in the charges, we look forward to being completely exonerated.&uot;

Faile added that he expected to enter a &uot;not guilty&uot; plea at Harris’ arraignment, which could occur in 30 to 45 days.

At Harris’ arraignment, it’s expected a trial date will be set as well as a plea entered. The trial could occur as early as spring.

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Harris has been arrested, but it was the first time felony charges have been levied against him. Harris was arrested April 30 on a misdemeanor charge of harassment. The warrant on that charge alleges Harris had touched a Southside student in a sexual manner after calling the student into his office and closing the door.

An arrest on April 16 occurred based on a warrant alleging Harris borrowed $15 from a student and told him, &uot;If I don’t pay you back, I will pay you back physically.&uot;

Harris is a defendant in a $45 million lawsuit filed Dec. 3 by former Southside teacher Barbara J. Barge and three others at the school, including an unnamed student.

Barge’s contract was later terminated by the Dallas County School Board after a student secretly tape-recorded a conversation between himself and Barge in which she reportedly used graphic sexual language and made derogatory remarks about several county school board employees.

In August Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins directed the Alabama State Tenure Commission to institute corrective action consistent with his opinion that Barge was wrongfully fired from her tenured teaching position at Southside.