Former Marion Co. coach pleads guilty to crimes

Published 7:13 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A former Marion County teacher and coach has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery.

Stephen W. Harris, 30, entered the pleas Monday in Marion County Circuit Court. District Attorney Hal Kittrell said no sentencing date has been set pending completion of a pre-sentencing report.

The charges stem from incidents involving a girl from West Marion High School where he was teaching and coaching baseball late last year, Kittrell said.

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Harris was originally charged with two counts each of sexual assault and exploitation of a minor, but the exploitation charges were dismissed during Monday’s hearing before Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell.

In addition to the Marion County charges, Harris is also facing two counts of statutory rape and three counts of sexual battery for incidents involving a victim in Newton County.

Harris taught junior high school math and served as an assistant baseball coach with the Newton County School District for about two years until he left at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight said Monday that the case there has not been presented to a grand jury but that “the charges have not been dropped.”

Newton County District Attorney Mark Duncan has said the charges are not being pursued right now because the mother and the victim do not wish to prosecute the case.