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51 Months for Sex With Prisoners

Suspended Gulf County (Pensacola), FL Sheriff Al Harrison, 52, was found guilty by a federal jury on January 27, 1995, of seven misdemeanor counts of violating the civil rights of five former female prisoners at the Gulf County Jail over a period of several years. The jury found that Harrison forced the women prisoners to have sex with him in his office in exchange for furloughs and other favors. Several other women, including former prisoners, a former sheriff's department employee and the ex wife of a family friend, testified that Harrison had coerced sex from them or made advances they rejected. The prisoners' testimony was bolstered when FBI agents testified they had recovered semen from the chairs and carpets in Harrison's office that were shown by a DNA match to be his. Harrison took the stand and denied the charges against him.

On March 24, 1995, judge Lacy Collier sentenced Harrison to 51 months imprisonment. While the charges were only misdemeanors the sentences were run consecutive. Collier said he would normally exceed federal sentencing guidelines in cases involving the violation of the public trust but did not do so in this case because of Harrison's otherwise spotless 30 year career in law enforcement. Collier told Harrison. AWe the people gave you, as we do all sheriffs, the power and the duty to incarcerate offenders, but they remain human beings.

Collier stated that he believed Harrison had committed perjury when he denied having sex with the prisoners in his office. The court said it considered this when calculating the sentence. Harrison claimed the semen got on the carpet and chairs because he had sex with his wife in the office once during a hurricane in 1985. The court ordered that Harrison receive mental health treatment while in prison and imposed a year of supervised release after Harrison is out of prison.

Palm Beach Post March 25, 1995

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