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July 19, 2013

Plattsburgh sex offender sentenced

Police: Joseph M. Harris abused infant last year

PLATTSBURGH — A Plattsburgh man who sexually abused an infant last year was sentenced to jail time and probation.

Joseph M. Harris, 45, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced by Clinton County Court Judge Timothy Lawliss to six months in jail with 10 years of probation.

Harris was ordered to pay fines and surcharges and to register as a Level 3 sex offender, in accordance with the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act.

Lawliss issued an eight-year order of protection for the victim, who was less than a year old at the time of the abuse.

Harris had sexual contact with the baby, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services online Sex Offender Registry.

He was arrested at his former Margaret Street residence on the morning of Oct. 10, 2012.

Plattsburgh City Police Lt. Pat Rascoe told the Press-Republican soon after Harris’s arrest that police received a complaint a few days earlier from officials at Clinton County Child Protective Services regarding an incident on Oct. 3 involving Harris and the infant.

Under New York State Penal Law, a person can be charged with first-degree sexual abuse when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion or when the victim is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or is younger than 11.

In New York state, sex offenders are assigned a level based on their risk of committing another sex crime and harm to the community, according to the Division of Criminal Justice’s website.

Level 3 is the most serious category, indicating that a “high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists.”

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg

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