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Northern California Coroner Charged with Sexually Abusing a Young Girl

May 15, 2017

Marin County residents were shocked to hear the news that their Northern California county coroner was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a girl younger than 14.

Darrell Harris was scheduled to be arraigned on four felony charges and a misdemeanor count of sexually abusing the girl over the past nine years.

Harris oversees the Marin County Coroner’s Office. Marin is known as one of the wealthiest counties in the country and is a San Francisco suburb north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The U.S. Census lists Marin’s median family income of $90,500, which ranks as the 17th wealthiest county in the nation. In California, only Santa Clara County in Silicon Valley has a higher median family income.

The Sheriff’s Office in Marin County controls the coroner’s office. Harris has worked there since 2003, and in October 2015, he was promoted to Chief Deputy Coroner. He was placed in charge of the office at that time.

The 46-year-old Harris remained in jail with bail set at $750,000.

Douglas Horngrad, the defendant’s attorney commented to the Marin Independent Journal that the charges against the coroner were uncharacteristic.

“I can only share with you that everyone, and I mean everyone, who knows him, is in absolute shock,” Horngard said. “Nobody believes it, from law enforcement to neighbors.”

Harris was arrested in Humboldt County, over 200 miles north of the Sonoma County address he told police was where he lived. He was transferred to the Marin County jail in San Rafael, 20 miles north of San Francisco. He was charged with four felony molestation counts involving one victim, according to the complaint filed by the Marin County District Attorney’s Office. The complaint alleges one count of continuous sexual abuse of a girl under 14 years old, with the molestation occurring on at least three occasions between May 2008 and May 2011. Other counts include charges of lewd acts and oral sex with a minor during the timespan from 2011 to 2015. The victim was between the ages 14 and 17 at the time of the abuse.

There is also a fifth count alleged in the complaint, which is a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery. This involves the same alleged victim after she turned 18 and covers a period from May 2015 to March 2017.

Three of the felonies alleged impose a mandatory state prison sentence. The most serious charge is continuous sexual abuse of a child… this carries a potential sentence of six to 16 years in state prison. If he is found guilty, Harris would also have to register as a sex offender.

The alleged crimes occurred in Marin County, however the neighboring Santa Rosa Police Department was asked to investigate because of Harris’ ties to law enforcement in Marin County. Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle had yet to make a decision on Harris’ employment status.

Harris made a court appearance on May 8th in a striped jail uniform. He did not enter a plea. Judge Andrew Sweet continued the arraignment for one week. Harris’ wife and one of his children observed the hearing in the courtroom and left shortly afterward.

Harris is also a part-time commercial photographer who uses the name D. Alan Harris.

As the Chief Deputy Coroner, Harris is one of the most public figures in the Marin County government offices. While Harris has yet to be tried for these crimes, the news illustrates how powerful individuals in a community can sometimes prey on the weak and the young. If your child has been the victim of sexual abuse while in the care of another, the Cifarelli Law Firm can help. Our law firm works to defend the rights of children, and we will work tirelessly to protect yours. Call us today for a consultation at (949) 502-8600.

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