ARCATA – Police Chief Randy Mendosa is reviewing the court transcript in the recent concluded trial of Clinton Lee Harris III.
Harris was originally accused of felony rape and burglary over an incident which occurred in the early morning hours of April 2, in which a 21-year-old Humboldt State University student testified that he had entered her home and sexually assaulted her. Harris wound up being sentenced Aug. 20 to 19 days in jail on a misdemeanor burglary plea.
“I have some concerns,” Mendosa said. “I have been in touch with Mr. Gallegos,” he said, referring to District Attorney Paul Gallegos.
Mendosa said he was loathe to publicly articulate his concerns, knowing the highly politicized atmosphere surrounding the controversial DA. He said offering fodder for public debate would only keep the issue alive in the media and perpetuate the alleged sexual assault survivor’s ordeal.
“As I do in my own investigations, I’ll be conveying my concerns privately,” Mendosa said.
According to court documents, three different prosecutors handled the case – Jeffrey Schwartz, Kelly Neel and Ben McLaughlin.
The plea arrangement was handled by McLaughlin, who wasn’t available before press time. However, in press accounts, McLaughlin suggested that the rape charge was weak due to the alleged victim’s prior romantic relationship with Harris, the lack of an immediate medical examination and a roommate’s not having heard anything unusual that night.
Testimony by the alleged victim indicated that she awoke to find Harris in her doorway. She said he then got in bed with her and assaulted her. During the alleged rape, the victim did not resist, but thought to herself, “Let it be over.”
Harris’ 19-day sentence was less 13 days already served, plus a $20 charge for court costs and three years probation. A $100 fine was suspended.
APD concerned about Harris sentence