Ex-navy Professor Pleads Guilty In Molestation Case

July 29, 2009|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

A former Naval Academy professor entered a plea Tuesday morning to charges that he sexually molested an adolescent relative more than a decade ago.

Patrick Ryan Harrison, 66, of Hot Springs Village, Ark., did not admit guilt but acknowledged to Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michael Wachs that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of second-degree sexual offense.

A civilian professor, Harrison taught computer science at the Naval Academy from 1976 until his retirement in 2003, according to academy officials.

Under the plea agreement, other charges were dropped and Harrison would not be jailed for more than five years. However, defense lawyer Thomas Pavlinic can seek a shorter jail term when Harrison is sentenced in September.

The incidents took place in Harrison's Annapolis home starting in 1994, when the girl was 12, said Sandra Foy Howell, assistant state's attorney. In 1995, with the girl in middle school, the encounters averaged three times a week and were often after school, she said. Harrison was accused of forcing sexual acts on the girl. Harrison told her he would not have intercourse with her, stating "that he could not do this until she was 18 because they would throw him in jail," Howell said. The assaults became less frequent when the girl completed eighth grade and her mother was diagnosed with cancer so was home more often, Howell said. In high school, she participated in after-school activities and spent less time at home.

But she told no one until recent years, when, in her 20s, she confided in her mother and other relatives, and received counseling. The Baltimore Sun does not publish the names of victims of sex crimes.

Confronted by family, Harrison gave different answers to different relatives, including describing the incidents as "an affair, rather than abuse," Howell said, alleging the girl had blackmailed him.

Last year, at the age of 27, the victim reported the abuse to police. In March, a Howard County judge granted her a protective order against Harrison. The woman said that Harrison had been contacting her since the investigation began and that he has permits to carry handguns.

The plea agreement also calls for five years of supervised probation and for him to pay for the victim's therapy.

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