Northern California coroner charged with sexual child abuse


NOVATO, Calif. (AP) — The Northern California coroner for one of the wealthiest counties in the country was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a girl younger than 14.

Darrell Harris, 46, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on four felony charges and a misdemeanor count of sexually abusing the girl over the last nine years.

Harris is in charge of the coroner’s office in Marin County, a wealthy and politically liberal San Francisco suburb north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The U.S. Census lists Marin’s median family income of $90,500 as the 17th wealthiest county in the nation. Only Santa Clara County in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley has a high median family income in the state.

Harris, who is in charge of the Marin County’s coroner office, remained in jail Monday on $750,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Harris’ attorney Douglas Horngrad told the Marin Independent Journal (https://tinyurl.com/lphrz7c ) that the charges are 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.”

The Marin County Sheriff’s Office controls the coroner’s office, where Harris has worked since 2003. In October 2015, he was promoted to chief deputy coroner and placed in charge of the office.

Harris was arrested in Humboldt County on Friday, about 225 miles (362 kilometers) north of the Sonoma County address he gave police as his own. He was transferred to the Marin County jail in San Rafael, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of San Francisco. He is being held on $750,000 bail.

The complaint alleges one count of continuous sexual abuse of a girl under 14 years old. The charge alleges that the molestation occurred on at least three occasions between May 2008 and May 2011.

The other counts, which include charges such as lewd acts and oral sex with a minor, cover various periods from 2011 to 2015. The girl was between the ages 14 and 17 during that span.

The alleged crimes occurred in Marin County, but the nearby Santa Rosa Police Department investigated the case because of Harris’ law enforcement ties.

Marin Sheriff Robert Doyle told the newspaper that the department has not made a decision on Harris’ employment status.

“Darrell has been an exemplary employee,” Doyle said Saturday. “We’re saddened by the allegations.”

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