News and Tribune

March 4, 2014

Jeffersonville man gets 100-year prison term

Guilty plea entered for child molestation


JEFFERSONVILLE — A Jeffersonville man was sentenced to 100 years in prison this week, after pleading guilty to sexually molesting a 13-year-old girl in 2012.

Bernard Earl Harris, 45, Whelan Lane, accepted a blind plea in early February and appeared in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Monday before presiding Judge Vicki Carmichael during a sentencing hearing.

Harris had been charged with three counts of class A felony child molesting and one count of class D felony child solicitation. Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Linda Lamping said the charges were amended to two counts of child molesting through the plea, and Harris was given a maximum penalty of 50 years for each charge.

Harris was arrested at his home by the Jeffersonville Police Department in October 2012, after the child’s father filed a report with the Indiana Department of Child Services. He was convicted on charges stemming from allegations he had sexual intercourse with the girl, who is a relative of Harris.

According to a probable-cause affidavit drafted by a JPD officer, the father had discovered on his computer instant messaging between his daughter and Harris that was sexual in nature.

Police reported that during a forensic interview at the Child Advocacy Center in New Albany, the girl said that she and Harris had a sexual relationship that lasted over the course of a year. The girl explained that during weekend visits she and Harris would take walks to a secluded location and “engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activities,” according to the affidavit.

Harris photographed and video recorded the child while she was nude and during sexual acts, the child told officials. Harris would use a separate memory card for the photographs and videos to conceal his actions, according to the affidavit.

According Clark County jail staff Tuesday afternoon, Harris had not yet been transferred to the Indiana Department Correction and remained an inmate at the facility.