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SGI ‘skinny dipping’ led to FBI agent’s arrest

A “skinny dipping” incident on St. George Island two summers
ago figures into a multi-state, multi-jurisdictional case being made against a
former FBI supervisory special agent on charges of indecent exposure in front
of juveniles.

In an Aug. 22 news release, Sheriff AJ Smith said a warrant
for the arrest of David Lee Harris, 51, of Prairieville, Louisiana. who is
being held on related charges in Ascension Parish, Louisiana,, concerned an
allegation of indecent exposure on the island in 2019, and a subsequent investigation
of a complaint made to the sheriff’s office in Feb. 2021.

The release said that during the investigation, Lt. Baron
Cortopassi learned Harris vacationed with family and friends on the island in
July 2019, and that during this time, was alleged to have exposed his genitalia
in a lewd and lascivious manner to a then 14-year-old female.

KLTV, in Tyler, Texas, reports that a Smith County, Texas affidavit alleges
Harris exposed himself to multiple children and molested one child in a period
from 2018 to 2019, and that the alleged crimes took place in Florida,
Louisiana, and Texas.

In Smith County, Harris has been charged with
third-degree felony indecent exposure.

KLTV reports the affidavit was obtained by a
Texas Ranger, who was contacted by a senior special agent with the U.S.
Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General who asked for help on
an alleged indecency with a child case.

The senior special agent with the OIG’s office
told the Ranger that the report had been received concurrently by the DOJOIG
and the U.S. Department of the Army because Harris was employed by both the FBI
and the U.S. Army at the time of the alleged offenses.

A story by WAFB, a television station in Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, said Harris is assigned to the FBI field office in New
Orleans, and had recently been appointed to head up a regional division of the
FBI that investigates online crimes against children, including child

KLTV said the Army report described an alleged
incident at a rental home in St. George Island, in 2019 when Harris’ family and
another family were vacationing. It is then, said the report, he allegedly took
off all his clothes at a pool party and started swimming in full view of two

When Harris was confronted about it, he
allegedly apologized and blamed his actions on being drunk, the television
station reported.

In his story for KLTV, Gary Bass wrote the man
who reported the “skinny dipping” incident told authorities he found a letter
from his wife addressed to someone he believes is Harris. In it, the letter
talked about the sexual relationship they had while they were married to other
people, read the KLTV story.

The story says that in the affidavit, the
man’s wife, in the letter, said Harris exposed himself in front of two

This information led Cortopassi to interview the
woman alleged to have had an affair with Harris. She told the investigator she
believed Harris exposed himself to her juvenile daughter on multiple occasions,
both at her home in Tyler and at Harris’ home in Louisiana.

According to the affidavit, the woman
described another “skinny dipping” incident that occurred at her pool in Tyler
in July 2018 when her daughter was 13. During the interview with Cortopassi,
the woman said the victim on St. George Island was actually one of her
daughter’s friends who had been vacationing with them, according to KLTV.

On February 26, the Texas Ranger and the
DOJOIG senior special agent observed a forensic interview with the woman’s
juvenile daughter at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County. During the
interview, the girl confirmed Harris had exposed himself to her on St. George
Island, the affidavit stated. She also allegedly said Harris exposed himself to
her on past occasions and had touched her inappropriately, according to KLTV.

The victim said Harris disrobed and swam in
their pool in Tyler in full view of her. She also described an incident when
she wasn’t feeling well and went to lie down, and while she was lying under a
blanket, Harris allegedly undressed from the waist down, exposed himself to
her, and laid down on top of her.

According to the affidavit, the girl yelled
out for Harris’ wife, who was in the kitchen at the time of the incident, and
he allegedly got off of her and put his clothes back on, according to the KLTV

The girl told the forensic interviewer that
Harris was “drunk most of the time” and that she believes he was intoxicated at
the time of the incident, the TV station report.

The KLTV story went on to report that the affidavit
also included a sampling of text messages to and from Harris’ FBI-issued cell
phone that confirmed many of the allegations about his indecent exposure
incidents and described his attraction to teenage girls.

Harris, a West Point graduate, is a full colonel in the US
Army reserves, according to the release from the Franklin County sheriff’s

He now faces a string of criminal charges — including
indecency with a child, crimes against nature and sexual battery. He was
arrested earlier this summer in Ascension Parish, where a judge declared him a
“threat to the public at large” and ordered him held without bond.

Besides Ascension Parish, Harris has outstanding arrests
warrants from East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parish. He also has an outstanding
arrest warrant out of Tyler, Texas for indecency with a child, which reveals
the alleged crimes date back several years.

The news release said the Texas affidavit sheds light on how
the investigation began and how it landed Harris behind bars, bringing his law
enforcement and military careers to an end.

Smith said that as of now, the FBI has dismissed Harris from
its employment, stemming from these investigations and arrest, by addressing
him in a letter as “Mr.” Harris, no longer using his previous rank and title. Harris’
US Army reserve status is still in review, read the release from the sheriff’s

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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