Some agreed to meet with him, and he would go and pick them up. But what waited for them was not the glamorous modeling world. It was a nightmarish world of motel rooms, forced sexual encounters—with Harris himself and then with paying customers—and other degrading and violent acts.
Harris used violence and intimidation to keep the girls cooperative. He took their wallets and their cell phones, cutting off their communication with the outside world. In one instance, he deprived a victim of food for four days because he thought she wasn't serving a client well enough. He also supplied her with marijuana and alcohol. Another victim was beaten with a towel rack torn from a motel room wall when Harris found her using a phone to call her mother for help. And he helped himself to all the money paid by customers.
Using photos he took or occasionally pilfered from the victims' own social media pages, Harris advertised the girls' services on various Internet websites.
The case was investigated by the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force in Houston, one of many child-focused task forces that we participate in around the country, working side by side with our partner agencies to investigate individuals and criminal enterprises responsible for victimizing young people. The Houston task force works closely with the Houston Police Department—in particular, its Vice and Juvenile Sex Crimes Divisions—and it was Houston uniformed officers who recovered one of Harris' victims and subsequently notified the task force.
The task force collected enough evidence to convince Harris to plead guilty. There was also enough evidence to prompt the judge to order that—after serving his 40-year sentence—Harris spend the rest of his life on supervised release. He's also required to register as a sex offender.
The dangers and pitfalls of social media cannot be overstated, especially for young people. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe online:
- Only "friend" and connect to people online that you know personally.
- Set your social media security settings so that only confirmed friends and connections can see what you are posting.
- Never post a picture of yourself or write anything on social media sites—or in e-mails and text messages—that you wouldn't want the world to see.
- Be wary of giving anyone you meet through social media your phone number, e-mail address, or home address. Use common sense.
- And most importantly, be aware that anyone you meet online may not be who they say they are.
From The FBI