There’s only so much a person can get away with before it all catches up to them. However, the man in the following story really thought he could fool everyone forever.
For a person in his position to do what he did was really troubling to his entire family, friends, and everyone he worked with. It all came crashing down when one search on this pilot’s computer opened a can of worms that no one was prepared for…
Top Notch Athlete
Harris was an All-American boy, captain of his high school football and lacrosse teams and a pretty great catch for teenage girls. With his father being a retired naval aviator, and grandfather, a two-star admiral, it came as no surprise that Harris was accepted into the Naval Academy in 2001.
Dreams Of Flying Planes
His dreams of being a pilot were slowly coming to fruition. Harris graduated at the top of his flight training classes on his way to becoming a fighter pilot and in 2011, he graduated from Top Gun for naval aviators. This was a lifelong dream of his…
A Dark Secret
Harris’ future looked bright and he was on his way to having it all once he met his wife and had two children with her. But, despite seeming like he had a perfect life, there was something that no one knew, not even Harris’ wife. He was harboring a dark secret.
The 30-year-old family man and Navy lieutenant was also a sex offender. He spent his evenings scouring the internet for underage girls who he could take advantage of. He’d pose as a preteen boy to gain the girls’ trust…
Once he establishing a trusting rapport with the girls, he would convince them to pose naked in front of webcams. Then, he used the photos to blackmail the girls, demanding they send sexual graphic images and videos to him, or else he would post the initial images online.
What was even worse was that Harris also threatened to send the suggestive images to the girl’s family and friends to further humiliate them. Apparently, Harris was harboring more than 800 explicit images and videos of girls on his computer…
Preying On Young Girls
There were more than 275 screen names with which Harris had Skype conversations and at least 45 of the girls made it clear they were underage. Apparently, Harris’ exploits had started as early as 2008.
It Was All A Facade
However, when he bought a new computer in 2011, it became difficult for authorities to prove the extent of his activities. Still, prosecutors called Harris “the victimizer and manipulator of hundreds of girls.” But, the victims weren’t the only ones fooled…
Coworkers Completely In The Dark About Who Harris Really Was
During his time as a pilot, Harris received high marks in fitness reports, and two months before Harris’ arrest in November 2013, he received a great honor. The reviewing officer said that Harris had earned the strongest recognition for promotion, selection for Department Head and VFA Command. “Promote and select now,” were the reviewing officer’s exact words.
Family And Friends Didn’t Believe It
Once family and friends learned about Harris’ double life, they surprisingly came to his defense. Dozens of them in fact wrote and sent character letters to authorities and in courtroom testimony, they expressed shock at the charges against him. Many described Harris as a “role model.”
Lying To Everyone
But things clearly weren’t as they seemed. People thought Harris was a “family man” who was “selfless, compassionate, caring, and trustworthy.” Except, he was fooling everyone. Harris’ father, retired Commander Steve Harris, testified at his son’s July 13 sentencing.
Commander Harris described his son as a “dream kid,” and a similar sentiment was expressed in taped telephone calls and letters from supporters expressing everything from regret to resentment. However, once the court reached a verdict, everyone’s tune changed…
They lashed out at Harris and his aunt even told him to take responsibility for his actions and apologize. Harris’ grandmother said he “dishonored” the Navy and “should have been man enough to admit it.” But, the most shocking letter came from Harris’ wife, Erin, who did not attend the sentencing.
Erin Didn’t Know The Whole Story
She had been voicing strong support when her husband was arrested and did not want those words to benefit him during sentencing. She admitted her initial reaction to her husband’s wrongdoing came from a place of a hopeful heart, when she had only a fraction of the information…
Filing For Divorce
“My observations were not only wrong but couldn’t be further from the truth…In his world, only he matters.” Erin has since filed for divorce and during Harris sentencing, the U.S. District Court Judge Mark Davis said Harris “sadistically tormented,” “manipulated,” and “blackmailed,” nine victims who ranged in age from 12 to 17.
Devastating Consequences For His Victims
“You essentially raped them,” Davis said. And in some ways, he believed what Harris did was worse because he kept coming back to the victims to further torment them. Once outgoing teens said they sunk into depression after the encounter with Harris, some had to be hospitalized and others became suicidal…
“He is a sick man who should be ashamed of his actions, but has shown otherwise,” one victim said at Harris’ sentencing. Furthermore, the judge found it very troubling that Harris never admitted any of his activity despite the mountain of evidence against him. Instead, the fighter pilot blamed other people and even created a fake scapegoat named “John Anderson,” to attempt to avoid prosecution. Harris even bribed the wife of an inmate.
Bribing The Chinese Embassy
Harris offered the woman $3,000 to use that alias to send text messages to his family and victims, claiming to have framed him. He hoped he had rid himself of the child porn charges. Then, when all else failed, Harris sent a letter to the Chinese embassy promising military secrets if they broke him out of jail. It was clear Harris had far surpassed desperation…
While the reason why he did what he did was troubling, it didn’t change the facts. Daniel Harris was sentenced to 50 years in prison, with at least 85% of that sentence which must be served with good conduct before he is eligible to be released.
Harris kept his eyes forward as he left the courtroom and his father stood by the door and apologized to victims as families made their way out. If only Harris was half the man that his father was, things would have turned out very differently.