Today, July 18, at the Vista courthouse, a 61-year-old Carlsbad man admitted to molesting a 5-year-old girl on Dog Beach in Del Mar more than a year ago.
William Wright Harris was free on his own recognizance, awaiting sentencing for a prior abuse case, when he approached the child at the beach on February 24, 2010. Harris offered to show the girl his “new toy,” according to her testimony at a preliminary hearing. The little girl described the man grabbing his crotch area.
The father of the child — who was a little ways down the beach — noticed the suspicious man and hurried to confront him. The father used his iPhone to record Harris making incriminating statements as he tried to explain himself, and the father pursued Harris all the way off the beach. Video of Harris getting into a Volkswagen van revealed the license-plate number, which helped investigators find their suspect.
Six days before the Dog Beach incident, Harris had been in court pleading guilty to “annoy a child” in another case; he hoped to be sentenced to “work furlough.”
Harris also has a “strike prior” for child abuse; that conviction was in 1992.
Harris will be sentenced for the February 2010 incident and the prior incident (which occurred in July 2009) at the Vista courthouse on August 23.
Attorneys said he could get up to 15 years 4 months. A charge of child pornography was dropped in today’s plea deal, according to prosecutor Katherine Flaherty.
Harris, already a sex offender profiled on the Megan’s Law website, will now be required to register as a sex offender for life, according to judge Timothy Casserly.
Pictured: William Wright Harris
Credit: Nick Morris