Man who contacted teen online convicted of sexual assualt

10-year sentence assessed

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram Staff

Nov 4, 2007 - A Sulphur Springs man was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week after being convicted on three charges of sexual assault of a teen-age boy in 2004.

Jeffrey Wade Harrington, 45, pleaded guilty Thursday to contacting the teen online, then meeting him at least three times in Hopkins County where sexual contact was engaged, according to District Attorney Martin Braddy.

�He found a young teen on the Internet,� Braddy said. "They met here covertly and were having sex at different places."

The boy’s family found out about the contact between the boy and Harrington. The teen’s parents notified authorities. Harrington was then questioned by police regarding the allegations.

�He gave a full confession,� Braddy said. �Sulphur Springs police did a great job getting him in and interviewed."

The sexual assaults of the teen boy are alleged to have occurred on June 15, June 22 and June 29, 2004. The district attorney added that there was no evidence any other such incidents had occurred with other youths.

"We are lucky in that our findings indicate he was caught the first time he did it," Braddy said.

He also commended the teen’s family "for putting themselves forward and stopping dangerous scenario of a man using the Internet to contact children, then assaulting them."

A plea agreement was reached between Harrington, defense attorney Doug Froneberger and Braddy, then accepted by 8th Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom on Thursday. Harrington was taken into custody for the conviction and to jail to begin serving the 10-year sentence in Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Braddy said he wanted a longer punishment — the maximum penalty is 20 years.

�We were shooting for 15,� Braddy said.

But the district attorney said he also felt that because the victim and his family have “just begun healing,” the outcome prevented them having to go through a lengthy trial which could have hampered that process. It also saved the cost of the trial and potential emotional distress for the victim and his family. The decision also helps protect other children by preventing Internet contact and potential harm, Braddy said. 

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