Pine Belt Coach to be Charged with Sexual Battery and Statutory Rape - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Pine Belt Coach to be Charged with Sexual Battery and Statutory Rape

Newton County authorities say they will issue an arrest warrant Wednesday charging the baseball coach at West Marion High School with statutory rape and sexual battery. 

30-year-old Stephen Harris of Foxworth remains in the Marion County jail on charges of sexual battery and exploitation of a child.  Harris is accused of sexual battery involving a 16-year-old West Marion High School student.  The exploitation charge reportedly stems from an encounter Harris had on the West Marion campus with an out-of-county student.  Harris abruptly resigned last year as an assistant baseball coach at Newton County High School.  Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight says the rape and sexual battery charge stems from alleged incidents while he still a coach at Decatur.

Meanwhile, the school superintendent of Newton County says Marion County education officials were warned about Harris.  In an article published in the Hattiesburg American on Tuesday, Superintendent Billy Pierce said the West Marion Principal was warned that Harris left under a cloud of suspicion.  Pierce says Harris had been warned more than once about his dealings with female students, but he adds the school had no proof.

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