2 more victims come forward in alleged molestations at rec center pool

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jun 08, 2013

PROVO, Utah --Two more victims have come forward and accused a man of molesting them at the Provo Recreation Center on Saturday.

Provo police arrested James Harrison, 38, Saturday after two 13-year old girls alleged the man had tried to grope them in the pool at the center.  Lt. Matthew Siufanua of the Provo Police Department said two more girls, ages 6 and 10, came forward Sunday morning with similar stories.

“I don’t know what was in his mind," he said. "I can tell you, generally speaking for predators, they go seeking for opportunities, and the pools are opportunities for these individuals. The Provo Rec Center is not alone. These kinds of situations and crimes occur at other pools and other locations."

Authorities arrested Harrison after the initial reports and charged him with two counts of sexual battery in connection with the incidents.

“He was in the pool with them, and we believe that with one of them he actually came up and just started talking to her, and then the assault itself occurred right then,” Siufanua said.

The girl reported the incident to a lifeguard, and shortly after, a second 13-year-old girl came forward with the same story.

“I wish I could say that it was surprising,” said Siufanua. “But I can tell you that this kind of a crime occurs all of the time in our pools. I mean, it’s not rampant, but it does occur.”

According to Dr. Douglas Goldsmith of the Children’s Center, it’s too soon to tell how the alleged victims could be impacted by this, but he advises parents to monitor their child's behavior in the coming weeks, perhaps even months.

“I think it really depends on the child because some of the children are going to respond with now a lot of terror,” Goldsmith said. “They could really go home and say, ‘I’m not sleeping well, I'm scared that he’s going to do this again to me. What if he comes back after me?' Especially the younger children could show a lot of fright.”

Siufanua said investigators are considering the possibility Harrison may have approached others at the pool, based on how populated it was Saturday afternoon.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Provo Police Department at 801-852-6210.